Matt Taylor (scientist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor ESA Rosetta.jpg
Matthew Graham George Thaddeus Taylor

1973 (age 45–46)
Manor Park, London
Alma mater
Scientific career
InstitutionsEuropean Space Agency
ThesisMHD modelling of space plasmas

Matthew Graham George Thaddeus Taylor (born 1973) is a British astrophysicist employed by the European Space Agency. He is best known to the public for his involvement in the landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko by the Rosetta mission (European Space Agency)'s Philae lander, which was the first spacecraft to land on a comet nucleus. He is Project Scientist of the Rosetta mission.[1][2]

Education and early life[edit]

Taylor was born in Manor Park, London[3] in 1973.[1] He is the son of a bricklayer and worked alongside his father, on building sites, during his summer breaks from university.[4]

He received a degree in physics from the University of Liverpool, as well as a PhD[5] in space physics which focused on Magnetohydrodynamics modelling of astrophysical plasma in the magnetosphere from Imperial College London.[4][6]

Career and research[edit]

After completing his PhD, Taylor joined the Mullard Space Science Laboratory as a Cluster research fellow.[7] This position led to his appointment as Cluster project scientist in 2005.[6][8] He is an author on 70 publications, primarily on the topic of aurorae.[6] In summer 2013, Taylor was assigned the role of Project Scientist for the Rosetta mission.[2][4] Taylor's research has been published in leading peer reviewed scientific journals including Nature,[9] the Journal of Geophysical Research,[10] Geophysical Research Letters[11] and the Annales Geophysicae.[12]

Shirt controversy[edit]

While giving a televised status update on the Rosetta space craft, Taylor wore a shirt depicting scantily-clad cartoon women with firearms made by his friend.[13][14][15] Taylor's decision to wear the shirt to a press conference drew criticism from a number of commentators,[16][17] who saw a reflection of a culture where women are unwelcome in scientific fields.[15] Others, including Boris Johnson,[18] Julie Bindel[19] and Tim Stanley,[20] made arguments against this criticism. The woman who made the shirt for Taylor as a birthday present stated that she "did not expect" the shirt to attract the level of attention that it did.[13] Taylor later made a public apology, saying: "The shirt I wore this week – I made a big mistake, and I offended many people. And I'm very sorry about this".[21][22][23] Some writers expressed appreciation for Taylor's apology.[22][24] A campaign was set up on the crowdfund website Indiegogo,[25] with the objective of raising $3,000 to buy Taylor a gift, as a token of the public's appreciation for the work that he and the team had done.[26] The campaign raised a total of $24,003, of which $23,000 was donated to UNAWE at Taylor's request, the remainder going towards a plaque commemorating the mission.[25][27]

Personal life[edit]

Taylor and his wife Leanne have two children.[1][4] He has a tattoo of the Rosetta spacecraft and its lander Philae on his leg,[28] which he had tattooed after the spacecraft was successfully awoken from hibernation in 2014.[4] Additionally, Taylor is a devoted fan of heavy metal, especially death metal, and posed with David Vincent of Morbid Angel for the magazine Metal Hammer, as well as having been photographed wearing Cannibal Corpse shirts multiple times.[29]


  1. ^ a b c Curtis, Nick (13 November 2014). "Rosetta rock star: Dr Matt Taylor on touching down on comet after a 10-year ride through space". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b Matt Taylor's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  3. ^ Walker, Peter (14 November 2014). "Comet genius Matt Taylor is a typical absent-minded scientist, says sister". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e Clark, Stuart (2 November 2014). "Rosetta spacecraft scientist Matt Taylor prepares for celestial rendezvous". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  5. ^ Taylor, Matthew Graham George Thaddeus (2001). MHD modelling of space plasmas (PhD thesis). Imperial College London. OCLC 53561590.
  6. ^ a b c "Matt Taylor". NASA. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  7. ^ "PhD Successes". SPAT News. Imperial College London. March 2001. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Cluster hears the heartbeat of magnetic reconnection". Space Daily. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  9. ^ Marklund, G. T.; Ivchenko, N.; Karlsson, T.; Fazakerley, A.; Dunlop, M.; Lindqvist, P.-A.; Buchert, S.; Owen, C.; Taylor, M.; Vaivalds, A.; Carter, P.; André, M.; Balogh, A. (2001). "Temporal evolution of the electric field accelerating electrons away from the auroral ionosphere". Nature. 414 (6865): 724–727. Bibcode:2001Natur.414..724M. doi:10.1038/414724a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 11742392.
  10. ^ Pedersen, A.; Lybekk, B.; André, M.; Eriksson, A.; Masson, A.; Mozer, F. S.; Lindqvist, P.-A.; Décréau, P. M. E.; Dandouras, I.; Sauvaud, J.-A.; Fazakerley, A.; Taylor, M.; Paschmann, G.; Svenes, K. R.; Torkar, K.; Whipple, E. (2008). "Electron density estimations derived from spacecraft potential measurements on Cluster in tenuous plasma regions". Journal of Geophysical Research. 113 (A7): n/a. Bibcode:2008JGRA..113.7S33P. doi:10.1029/2007JA012636. ISSN 0148-0227.
  11. ^ Lavraud, B. (2002). "Cluster observations of the exterior cusp and its surrounding boundaries under northward IMF". Geophysical Research Letters. 29 (20): 56–1–56–4. Bibcode:2002GeoRL..29.1995L. doi:10.1029/2002GL015464. ISSN 0094-8276.
  12. ^ Owen, C. J.; Fazakerley, A. N.; Carter, P. J.; Coates, A. J.; Krauklis, I. C.; Szita, S.; Taylor, M. G. G. T.; Travnicek, P.; Watson, G.; Wilson, R. J.; Balogh, A.; Dunlop, M. W. (2001). "Cluster PEACE observations of electrons during magnetospheric flux transfer events". Annales Geophysicae. 19 (10/12): 1509–1522. Bibcode:2001AnGeo..19.1509O. doi:10.5194/angeo-19-1509-2001. ISSN 1432-0576.
  13. ^ a b Catherine Thompson (13 November 2014). "Rosetta Scientist Sparks #ShirtStorm With on Shirt". TPM Livewire.
  14. ^ "#BBCtrending: Rosetta physicist's 'sexist' shirt". BBC Trending. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  15. ^ a b Bell, Alice (13 November 2014). "Why women in science are annoyed at Rosetta mission scientist's clothing". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  16. ^ Friedman, Vanessa (20 November 2014). "The Lessons of a Rosetta Scientist's Shirt". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Chappell, Bill (14 November 2014). "'Shirtstorm' Leads To Apology From European Space Scientist". NPR. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  18. ^ Boris Johnson (16 November 2014). "Dr Matt Taylor's shirt made me cry, too – with rage at his abusers". The Daily Telegraph.
  19. ^ Julie Bindel (18 November 2014). "Feminism is in danger of becoming toxic". The Guardian. Op-Ed.
  20. ^ Tim Stanley (15 November 2014). "Matt Taylor's sexist shirt and the day political correctness officially went mad". The Daily Telegraph.
  21. ^ Molloy, Antonia (14 November 2014). "Dr Matt Taylor apologises for controversial 'sexist' shirt worn after Rosetta mission comet landing". The Independent. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  22. ^ a b "Rosetta Comet Scientist Matt Taylor Apologizes for His Shirt". NBC News. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  23. ^ James Meikle (14 November 2014). "Rosetta scientist Dr Matt Taylor apologises for 'offensive' shirt". The Guardian.
  24. ^ Turk, Victoria (17 November 2014). "#Shirtgate Was About More Than a Tacky Shirt". Vice. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  25. ^ a b "We want to buy a gift for Dr. Taylor and the rest of the Rosetta Mission team". Indiegogo. 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  26. ^ Belmont Lay (18 November 2014). "Grateful public crowdfunds more than US$16,000 to buy a gift to support scientist whose shirt was deemed offensive".
  27. ^ "ESA Rosetta's Project Scientist Donates to the Universe Awareness Programme". UNAWE. 12 December 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  28. ^ "Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor tattooed landing on thigh". BBC. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  29. ^ "Dr Matt Taylor stops by tonight's Metal Hammer radio show". Metal Hammer. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2015.

External links[edit]