Contributors to The Great Debate
Dr Richard Fong
Richard Fong is Emeritus Senior Lecturer at the University of Durham.
He is essentially a local lad, having done all his schooling in
Darlington. Indeed, he acknowledges how much he owes to his inspirational
Maths teacher, Mr. Hastie, at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in
Darlington. From there, he entered Cambridge as an Open Exhibitioner,
becoming a Scholar the following year. He did his Ph.D. at the University
of Maryland in the States, where his work was explained to Dirac, who had
come to present a seminar. Dirac thought at first that it was impossible
that the work could be correct, but the day after Dr. Fong and his
supervisor, Prof. Joe Sucher, were summoned to meet Dirac again, whereupon
he gave his seal of approval. The subsequent paper, published in 1964, was
also complemented on by the Nobel laureate, Steve Weinberg, and is,
remarkably, still being cited by current researchers today.
encouraged by Professor Sir Arnold Wolfendale, he formed with Richard
Ellis as his Research Assistant the Cosmology Group of Durham University.
Both at the time were complete novices as far as Cosmology was concerned
and, thus, had to build their research in Cosmology from scratch, along
with the three brilliant graduate students they were supervising, George
Efstathiou, Steve Phillipps and Tom Shanks. The group soon became a world
leader, with Dr. Fong serving on a number of Research Council committees
and panels. Dr. Fong has also collaborated with scientists abroad,
including the renowned Russian cosmologist, Andrei Doroshkevich.
retiring 9 years ago, Dr. Fong still comes into the Department to interact
with members of the very large group that Extragalactic Astronomy and
Cosmology has become and makes it a point to attend it's main seminars on
Wednesday afternoons. Retirement has allowed him to stand back and attempt
to see Physics as a whole. He also has a great passion for classical music
and served on Classical FM's very first Consumer Panel, where he came up
with the idea for the station to award a prize for best commercial, to be
voted on by listeners. He considers music as a language of emotions and
that, as such, musical works of art exist on many levels, just as with the
literature of ordinary language, in its array of detective stories, Mills
and Boon, Science Fiction, the art novel, plays and poetry. He has a deep
interest in the possible parallels between the Arts and Science in terms
of human vision and imagination.
Richard Fong is presenting
Seeing the unseen, vision, imagination and truth;
a conversation about Cosmology, Quantum Mechanics,
and Physics in general at
as part of
Phoenix debate and talk programme on 21st August 2010.