ⓘ Roy Kerr


ⓘ Roy Kerr

Roy Patrick Kerr is a New Zealand mathematician who discovered the Kerr geometry, an exact solution to the Einstein field equation of general relativity. His solution models the gravitational field outside an uncharged rotating massive object, including a rotating black hole. His solution to Einsteins equations predicted spinning black holes before they were discovered.


1. Early life and education

Kerr was born in 1934 in Kurow, New Zealand. He was born into a dysfunctional family, and his mother was forced to leave when he was three. When his father went to war, he was sent to a farm. After his fathers return from war, they moved to Christchurch. He got into St Andrews College, a private school, as his father had served under a former headmaster. Kerrs mathematical talent was first recognised while he was still a high school student at St Andrews College. Although there was no maths teacher there at the time he was able in 1951 to go straight into third year Mathematics at the Canterbury University College of the University of New Zealand, the precursor to the University of Canterbury. Their regulations did not permit him to graduate until 1954 and so it was not until September 1955 that he moved to the University of Cambridge, where he earned his PhD in 1959. His dissertation concerned the equations of motion in general relativity.


2. Career and research

After a stint as a postdoctoral researcher at Syracuse University, where Einsteins collaborator Peter Bergmann was professor, he spent some time working for the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Kerr speculated that the "main reason why the US Air Force had created a General Relativity section was probably to show the U.S. Navy that they could also do pure research."


2.1. Career and research Work at Texas and Canterbury

In 1962 Kerr joined Alfred Schild and his Relativity Group at the University of Texas at Austin. As Kerr wrote in 2009:

By the summer of 1963, Maarten Schmidt at Caltech had shown that certain starlike objects now called quasars were actually distant objects emitting enormous amounts of energy. Nobody understood how they could be so bright. In an effort to unravel this mystery, several hundred astronomers, astrophysicists, and general relativists gathered for a conference in Dallas, held in early December that year. This would be the First of what since then has become the biennial Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics.

Kerr presented to the Symposium his solution to the Einstein field equations. In 1965, with Alfred Schild, he introduced the concept of Kerr-Schild perturbations and developed the Kerr-Newman metric. During his time in Texas, Kerr supervised four PhD students.

In 1971, Kerr returned to the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Kerr retired from his position as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Canterbury in 1993 after having been there for twenty-two years, including ten years as the head of the Mathematics department.


2.2. Career and research Awards and honours

  • Marcel Grossmann Award 2006 "for his fundamental contribution to Einsteins theory of general relativity."
  • Crafoord Prize 2016 "for fundamental work on rotating black holes and their astrophysical consequences."
  • Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to astrophysics 2011
  • Rutherford Medal 1993 "For his outstanding discoveries in the extra-terrestrial world of black holes."
  • Canterbury Distinguished Professor 2016
  • Hughes Medal 1984 "for his distinguished work on relativity, especially for his discovery of the so-called Kerr Black Hole, which has been very influential."
  • Hector Medal 1982 "for his work in theoretical physics. an exact solution of Einsteins equations of general relativity."
  • Albert Einstein Medal 2013 "for his 1963 discovery of a solution to Einsteins gravitational field equations."

In 2008 Kerr was appointed to the Yevgeny Lifshitz ICRANet Chair in Pescara, Italy.

Fulvio Melia interviewed Kerr about his work on the solution for the book Cracking the Einstein Code: Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole Physics published in 2009. Kerr contributed an "Afterword" of two and a half pages.

In 2012 it was announced that Kerr would be honoured by the Albert Einstein Society in Switzerland with the 2013 Albert Einstein Medal. He is the first New Zealander to receive the prestigious award.

In December 2015, the University of Canterbury awarded Kerr an honorary Doctor of Science.

In May 2016 Kerr was awarded the Crafoord Prize in Astronomy by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.


3. Personal life

Kerr is married to Margaret. In 2013 they moved from Christchurch to Tauranga. Kerr was a notable bridge player representing New Zealand internationally in the mid 1970s. He was co-author of the Symmetric Relay System, a bidding system in contract bridge.

  • the Kerr metric, remained unsolved until 1963, when it was discovered by Roy Kerr The natural extension to a charged, rotating black - hole, the Kerr Newman
  • called the Kerr Newman metric. It is a generalisation of the Kerr metric for an uncharged spinning point - mass, which had been discovered by Roy Kerr two years
  • Clare Amabel Margaret Fitz Roy Dowager Countess of Euston nee Kerr born 15 April 1951 is the current Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk. She is also President
  • Nashville. Using Kerr s arrangements, they can be heard on songs by Hank Snow, Brenda Lee, Perry Como, Pat Boone, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Vinton, Roy Orbison
  • Andrew Kerr IV October 7, 1878 February 17, 1969 was an American football, basketball, and track and field coach. He served as the head football coach
  • Thames Hudson. He produced the drawings for Strong Points by Roy Strong. Mackenzie - Kerr has featured in books about book design, being very adaptable
  • Actor Rowan Rait Kerr 1891 1961 Irish cricketer and administrator Roy Kerr born 1934 New Zealand mathematician Samantha Kerr born 1993 Australian
  • Taub NUT space Roy Kerr Spinning Black Holes Lecture at the University of Canterbury, 25. May 2016 Timecode: 21m36s Roy Kerr Kerr Conference Lecture
  • Scientific Veil. Rowman Littlefield. p. 533. ISBN 978 - 0 - 8476 - 9600 - 0. Roy Kerr Spinning Black Holes Lecture at the University of Canterbury, timecode