Joseph Silk

2011 Balzan Prize for The Early Universe (From the Planck Time to the First Galaxies)

For his pioneering work on the early evolution of the Universe, studying the effects of various physical processes and phenomena such as dark matter and space curvature on the fluctuations of the Cosmic Microwave Background and the formation of galaxies of different types.

Biographical and Bibliographical Data

Joseph Ivor Silk, born in London, England, on 3 December 1942, is a British and a US citizen.

He is currently Professor of Physics at the Institut d’Astrophysique, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, Homewood Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and Senior Fellow in the Beecroft Institute of Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Department of Physics, University of Oxford.

He received his BA in Mathematics from Clare College, Cambridge, in 1963 and his PhD in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1968.
Fellow of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1969, he was a Research Associate at Princeton University from 1969 to 1970 and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton from 1975 to 1976. He was Assistant Professor of Astronomy from 1970 to 1973, Associate Professor of Astronomy from 1973 to 1978, then Professor of Astronomy from 1978 to 1999 and Professor of Physics from 1988 to 1999 at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1999 to September 2011 he was Savilian Professor of Astronomy at the University of Oxford.

He was a Chercheur Associé at the Institut d’Astrophysique, Paris, from 1982 to 1983, in 1986, in 1987 and he has taken up again the position since 2000. He was also a Visiting Fellow of Mt. Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories, Canberra, in 1999.
   He holds honorary degrees from the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” and the University Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris. He has given more than 330 invited conference lectures, primarily on galaxy formation, dark matter and cosmology. 

Joseph Silk is the author or co-author of more than 500 publications. The following is a judicious selection:
– Fluctuations in the Primordial Fireball, “Nature” 215, 1155-1156 (1967)
– Cosmic Black-Body Radiation and Galaxy Formation, “Astrophysical Journal” 151, 459-471 (1968)
– with S.M. Lea, E. Kellogg et al., Thermal-Bremsstrahlung Interpretation of Cluster X-Ray Sources, “Astrophysical Journal” 184, L105-L111 (1973)
– On the Fragmentation of Cosmic Gas Clouds. I. Formation of Galaxies and First Generation of Stars, “Astrophysical Journal” 211, 638-648 (1977)
– with M.L. Wilson, Residual Fluctuations in the Matter and Radiation Distribution after the Decoupling Epoch, “Physica Scripta” 21, 708-713 (1980)
– with J.R. Bond and G. Efstathiou, Massive Neutrinos and the Large-Scale Structure of the Universe, “Physical Review Letters” 45, 1980-1984 (1980)
– with C. Norman, Clumpy Molecular Clouds: A Dynamic-Model Self-consistently Regulated by T Tauri Star Formation, “Astrophysical Journal” 238, 158-174 (1980)
– with M.L. Wilson, On the Anisotropy of the Cosmological Background Matter and Radiation Distribution. I. The Radiation Anisotropy in a Spatially Flat Universe, “Astrophysical Journal” 243, 14-25 (1981)
– with N. Vittorio, Fine-Scale Anisotropy of the Cosmic Microwave Background in a Universe Dominated by Cold Dark Matter, “Astrophysical Journal” 285, L39-L43 (1984)
– with M. Srednicki, Cosmic-Ray Antiprotons as a Probe of a Photino-Dominated Universe, “Physical Review Letters” 5, 624-627 (1984)
– with K. Olive and M. Srednicki, The Photino, the Sun, and High-Energy Neutrinos, “Physical Review Letters” 55, 257-259 (1985)
– with A. Dekel, The Origin of Dwarf Galaxies, Cold Dark Matter, and Biased Galaxy Formation, “Astrophysical Journal” 303, 39-55 (1986)
– with R.F.G. Wyse, Star Formation Rates and Abundance Gradients in Disk Galaxies, “Astrophysical Journal” 339, 700-711 (1989)
– with M. White and D. Scott, Anisotropies in the Cosmic Microwave Background, “Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics” 32, 319-370 (1994)
– with W. Hu and N. Sugiyama, The Physics of Microwave Background Anisotropies, “Nature” 386, 37-43 (1997)
– with M. Tegmark, M.J. Rees et al., How Small Were the First Cosmological Objects?, “Astrophysical Journal” 474, 1-12 (1997)
– with E. Gawiser, Extracting Primordial Density Fluctuations, “Science” 280, 1405-1411 (1998)
– with M.J. Rees, Quasars and Galaxy Formation, “Astronomy & Astrophysics” 31, L1-L4 (1998)
– with P. Gondolo, Dark Matter Annihilation at the Galactic Center, “Physical Review Letters” 83, 1719-1722 (1999)
– with G. Bertone and D. Hooper, Particle Dark Matter: Evidence, Candidates and Constraints, “Physics Reports” 405, 279-390 (2005) 

Volume-length publications:
– The Left Hand of Creation, Oxford University Press, 1994 – Cosmic Enigmas, Springer, 1994
– The Big Bang, W.H. Freeman, 2005
– On the Shores of the Unknown: A Short History of the Universe, Cambridge University Press, 2005
– The Infinite Cosmos, Oxford University Press, 2006- Horizons of Cosmology, Templeton Press, 2009

(October 2011)

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