Ezra T. Newman

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Ezra T. Newman
Born (1929-10-17) October 17, 1929 (age 88)
Bronx, New York
Nationality American
Alma mater The Bronx H.S. of Science
New York University
Syracuse University
Known for Newman–Penrose formalism
Kerr–Newman metric
Scientific career
Fields General relativity
Institutions University of Pittsburgh
Doctoral advisor Peter Bergmann

Ezra Theodore Newman (born October 17, 1929) is an American physicist, known for his many contributions to general relativity theory. He is 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.[1] He showed an early interest in science, pondering magnets, match flames, and science books.[2]

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.[1]

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.[3] 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.[4]

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 help to touch off the Bogdanov Affair.


Newman married Sally Faskow on April 20, 1958.[1]

His son, David E. Newman, is currently a Professor of Physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and his daughter, Dara Newman, is currently Parent Education Director at Families First Missoula following a career in quantitative genetics and conservation biology.

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Allen G. Debus (1968) Who's Who in Science, page 1250, A. N. Marquis
  2. ^ Paul Basken (February 13, 2011) A Humble Heavyweight in Physics Finally Gets His Due, Chronicle of Higher Education
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Newman, E. T. (1973). "Maxwell's equations and complex Minkowski space". Journal of Mathematical Physics. The American Institute of Physics. 14 (1): 102. Bibcode:1973JMP....14..102N. doi:10.1063/1.1666160. (Subscription required (help)). 

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