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Michael Rowan-Robinson

Michael Rowan-Robinson is an astronomer, astrophysicist and Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics at Imperial College, London. He studied Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and had an interest in poetry and writing which led him to mix with other like-minded students in his college such as the poet Richard Burns (now Berengarten). Some of his poems were published in the second issue of the Carcanet magazine in 1963 when it was still a joint Oxford and Cambridge student magazine and then in Universities’ Poetry in 1966.  He also appeared in Pembroke Poets, an anthology of fifty poets who were members of the college during its 650-year history (1995). He was a great admirer of the Greek poet Georges Seferis and was fortunate to be invited to meet him in Athens during his undergraduate days. He spoke to Seferis about science and the study of cosmology and is believed to have influenced the work in his subsequent publication Three Secret Poems (1966).  He continued to write during his scientific doctoral studies at Royal Holloway, University of London but his career in astronomy and astrophysics soon took precedence over poetry writing.

Rowan-Robinson has had a very distinguished career in science rising to Head of the Astrophysics Group at Imperial College London from 1993 to 2007, and President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2006 to 2008. He has written many articles and books on astronomy and astrophysics including: The Cosmological Distance Ladder (1985); Universe (1990); Ripples in the Cosmos (1993); The Nine Numbers of the Cosmos (2001) and Cosmology (2004), and spoken both on television and at science festivals. In 2008, he was awarded the Hoyle medal for his research in infrared and submillimetre astronomy, and observational cosmology.

Interview 17 August 2018