Malcolm Longair

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Malcolm Longair
Born Malcolm Sim Longair
(1941-05-18) 18 May 1941 (age 75)
Dundee, Scotland
Fields Natural Philosophy
Alma mater
Thesis The evolution of radio galaxies (1967)
Doctoral advisor Martin Ryle[1]
Doctoral students
Notable awards

Malcolm Sim Longair, CBE, FRS (18 May 1941) is a British physicist. From 1991 to 2008 he was the Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge.[4][5]


He was born on 18 May 1941,[6] and educated at Morgan Academy, Dundee, Scotland. He graduated in Electronic Physics from Queen's College, Dundee, of the University of St. Andrews in 1963. He became a research student in the Radio Astronomy Group of the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where he completed his Ph.D. in 1967.[7]


From 1968 to 1969, he was a Royal Society Exchange Visitor to the Lebedev Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences, where he worked with academics V.L. Ginzburg and Ya. B. Zeldovich.

He held a Fellowship of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 from 1966 to 1968 and was a Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge from 1967 to 1980. He has held visiting professorships at the California Institute of Technology (1972), the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1978), the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (1990) and the Space Telescope Science Institute (1997). From 1980 to 1990, he held the joint posts of Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Regius Professor of Astronomy of the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. He is a Professorial Fellow and Vice-President of Clare Hall, Cambridge. He was Deputy Head of the Cavendish Laboratory with special responsibility for the teaching of physics from 1991 to 1997, and Head of the Cavendish Laboratory from 1997 to 2005.


Longair's primary research interests are in the fields of high energy astrophysics and astrophysical cosmology. He has written eight books and many articles on this work. His most recent publication is the second edition of his Theoretical Concepts in Physics, released in December 2003. His other interests include music, mountain walking (completing the Munros in 2011), art, architecture and golf. As of 2016 he is the editor-in-chief of the Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society[8] and has written biographies of John E. Baldwin,[9] Vitaly Ginzburg[10] and Brian Pippard.[11]

Selected Publications[edit]

  • High Energy Astrophysics: Volume 1, Particles, Photons and their Detection (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press. 2011. p. 888. ISBN 0521756189.  2nd: pbk, 1992, 440pp., ISBN 0521387736
  • The Cosmic Century: A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology. Cambridge University Press. 2006. p. 565. ISBN 0521474361. 
  • High Energy Astrophysics: Volume 2, Stars, the Galaxy and the Interstellar Medium (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. 1994. p. 412. ISBN 0521435846. 
  • Theoretical Concepts in Physics: An Alternative View of Theoretical Reasoning in Physics. Cambridge University Press. 1984. p. 384. ISBN 0521255503.  revised and enlarged 2nd edition: 2003, 588pp., ISBN 0521821266
  • Our Evolving Universe (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. 1996. p. 384. ISBN 0521550912. 

As of 2014 he has published 298 since 1965.[13]

Awards and honours[edit]

Longair has received numerous awards, including the first Britannica Award for the Dissemination of Learning and the Enrichment of Life in February 1986. In December 1990, he delivered the series of Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for Young People on television on the topic 'The Origins of Our Universe'. From 1991 to 1992 he was President of the Physics Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He was awarded the 1994 Science Prize of the Saltire Society-Royal Bank of Scotland Annual award. In 1995, he was Selby Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences and took a lecture demonstration entitled 'Measuring the Fundamentals' round all the state capitals of Australia. He was the chairman of the Gemini Board, the international project to build 8-metre telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres, for the years 1994 and 1995. He was Chairman of the Space Telescope Science Institute Council for 1995-6. He was President of the Royal Astronomical Society 1996-8. He was awarded the CBE in the 2000 New Year Honours List. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2004.[3]


  1. ^ a b Malcolm Longair at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ Lilly, Simon (1983). Evolution of radio galaxies (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. 
  3. ^ a b Anon (2004). "Professor Malcolm Longair CBE FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-11-17.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies at the Wayback Machine (archived September 25, 2015)

  4. ^ Malcolm Longair at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ Hughes, David H.; Serjeant, Stephen; Dunlop, James; Rowan-Robinson, Michael; Blain, Andrew; Mann, Robert G.; Ivison, Rob; Peacock, John; Efstathiou, Andreas; Gear, Walter; Oliver, Seb; Lawrence, Andy; Longair, Malcolm; Goldschmidt, Pippa; Jenness, Tim (1998). "High-redshift star formation in the Hubble Deep Field revealed by a submillimetre-wavelength survey". Nature. 394 (6690): 241–247. doi:10.1038/28328. 
  6. ^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2014. Prof M.S. Longair, astronomer, 70 
  7. ^ Longair, Malcolm Sim (1967). The evolution of radio galaxies (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. 
  8. ^ Longair, Malcolm (2016). "Editorial". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. London: Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2016.0023. 
  9. ^ Longair, M. S. (2011). "John Evan Baldwin. 6 December 1931 -- 7 December 2010". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2011.0011. 
  10. ^ Longair, M. S. (2011). "Vitaly Lazarevich Ginzburg. 4 October 1916 – 8 November 2009". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 57: 129–146. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2011.0002. 
  11. ^ Longair, M. S.; Waldram, J. R. (2009). "Sir Alfred Brian Pippard. 7 September 1920 -- 21 September 2008". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 55: 201–220. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2009.0014. 
  12. ^ "Malcolm Longair" (PDF). ISAPP2012PARIS : International School on AstroParticle Physics. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  13. ^ Longair, Malcolm S. "List of Publications" (PDF). Retrieved 19 May 2014.