Ezra T. Newman

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Ezra Ted Newman
Roger Penrose with Newman in 2019
Born(1929-10-17)October 17, 1929
DiedMarch 24, 2021(2021-03-24) (aged 91)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma materThe Bronx H.S. of Science
New York University
Syracuse University
Known forNewman–Penrose formalism
Kerr–Newman metric
Scientific career
FieldsGeneral relativity
InstitutionsUniversity of Pittsburgh
Doctoral advisorPeter Bergmann

Ezra Theodore (Ted) Newman (October 17, 1929 – March 24, 2021[1]) was an American physicist, known for his many contributions to general relativity theory. He was Professor Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh. Newman was awarded the 2011 Einstein Prize from the American Physical Society:

For outstanding contributions to theoretical relativity, including the Newman–Penrose formalism, Kerr–Newman solution, Heaven, and null foliation theory. For his intellectual passion, generosity and honesty, which have inspired and represented a model for generations of relativists.


Newman was born in the Bronx, New York City to David and Fannie (Slutsky) Newman.[2] He showed an early interest in science, pondering magnets, match flames, and science books.[3]

He was admitted to the Bronx High School of Science, where he excelled at physics. Ted's father hoped that he would follow him into dentistry, but instead Ted enrolled at New York University to further his study of physics, graduating with a B.A. in 1951. For graduate education he went to Syracuse University, obtaining an M.A. in 1955 and a Ph.D. the following year.

Career in physics[edit]

Newman joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty in 1956, becoming professor of physics in 1966. He was a visiting professor at Syracuse University in 1960/61 and at Kings College, University of London in 1964/65. In 1957 he served as consultant at Wright–Patterson Air Force Base.[2]

In 1962, together with Roger Penrose, he introduced the powerful Newman–Penrose formalism for working with spinorial quantities in general relativity. The following year he and coworkers extended Abraham H. Taub's solution to the Einstein field equation obtaining the Taub–NUT space.[4] He also generalized the Kerr metric developed by Roy Kerr to include a charged body, resulting in the Kerr–Newman metric.

In 1973 he advocated the use of complex numbers in relativity, and consideration of complex spacetime.[5]

Some of his most interesting recent work has involved the problem of reconstructing the gravitational field within some region from observations of how optical images are lensed as light rays pass through the region.

In 2002 an email he forwarded to John C. Baez helped to touch off the Bogdanov Affair.

Newman was selected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1972.[6]


Newman married Sally Faskow on April 20, 1958.[2]

His son, David E. Newman, is currently a Professor of Physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and his daughter, Dara Newman, is currently in private practice as a mental health therapist following a career in quantitative genetics and conservation biology.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Frittelli, Simonetta; Kling, Thomas P.; Newman, Ezra T. (2000). "Image distortion from optical scalars in non perturbative gravitational lensing". Physical Review D. 63 (2): 023007. arXiv:gr-qc/0011108. Bibcode:2001PhRvD..63b3007F. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.63.023007. S2CID 38841368.
  • Newman, E. T.; Couch, E.; Chinnapared, K.; Exton, A.; Prakash, A.; Torrence, R. J. (1965). "Metric of a rotating charged mass". J. Math. Phys. 6 (6): 918. Bibcode:1965JMP.....6..918N. doi:10.1063/1.1704351.
  • Newman, E. T.; Penrose, R. (1962). "An approach to gravitational radiation by a method of spin coefficients". J. Math. Phys. 3 (3): 566. Bibcode:1962JMP.....3..566N. doi:10.1063/1.1724257.


  1. ^ https://obituaries.post-gazette.com/obituary/ezra-ted-newman-1081869139
  2. ^ a b c Allen G. Debus (1968) Who's Who in Science, page 1250, A. N. Marquis
  3. ^ Paul Basken (February 13, 2011) A Humble Heavyweight in Physics Finally Gets His Due, Chronicle of Higher Education
  4. ^ Newman, E. T.; Tamburino, L. A. & Unti, T. (1963). "Empty-space generalization of the Schwarzschild metric". J. Math. Phys. 4 (7): 915. Bibcode:1963JMP.....4..915N. doi:10.1063/1.1704018.
  5. ^ Newman, E. T. (1973). "Maxwell's equations and complex Minkowski space". Journal of Mathematical Physics. The American Institute of Physics. 14 (1): 102–103. Bibcode:1973JMP....14..102N. doi:10.1063/1.1666160.
  6. ^ "APS Fellow Archive". American Physical Society. Retrieved 2018-03-28.

External links[edit]