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On John Barrow (1952-2020)

16 Oct 2020, 15:30 UTC
On John Barrow (1952-2020)
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Peter Coles, who is a professor of theoretical physics at Maynooth University in Ireland, tells an anecdote about John Barrow, who died recently at the age of 67. Barrow had been Coles’ thesis supervisor and a profound influence on his work as well as a good friend. As Coles tells it in his In the Dark blog, Barrow had an engaging and sometimes slightly morbid sense of humor, dry enough to tease out the ironies abundant in life’s accomplishments. Thus his reaction to being made a Fellow of the Royal Society, which was to point out in an email that his joy was tempered by having received as his first communication from the Society not only a fat bill for his subscription, but also a form upon which to enter the details of his future obituary.
How saddening that Barrow’s obituary materials had to be put to use so soon. The man was 67, felled by cancer. As Coles notes, he was “one of cosmology’s brightest lights.” I can glance across my office to the nearest of many bookshelves where I see various Barrow titles, including of course The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford University Press, 1986) and The Left Hand ...

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