Dr. John Bahcall

by David Lemberg on December 8, 2009

in Astronomy, Physics and Cosmology, Science Education, Space Exploration

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Dr. John Bahcall (1934-2005) had a long and prolific career in astronomy and astrophysics, spanning five decades and the publication of more than 500 technical papers, books, and popular articles.

Dr. Bahcall’s original calculations of the expected neutrino output from the sun led to a long, experimental, and intellectual adventure that continues today. The “solar neutrino problem” has yielded new insights in astrophysics and into the most basic forces of nature. Dr. Bahcall led a major effort to exploit the capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope in elucidating the properties of quasars, and is recognized for his theoretical work in many different areas of astrophysics, including models of the Galaxy and studies of dark matter.

Dr. Bahcall was Richard Black Professor Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study. He joined the Institute in 1968. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and Member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and NASA Advisory Council.

Dr. Bahcall was the recipient of the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (1992), National Medal of Science (1998), Hans Bethe Prize (1998), Dan David Prize (2003), Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal (2003), Benjamin Franklin Medal (2003), Enrico Fermi Award (2003), and the Comstock Prize in Physics (2004).

In our 2-23-05 interview, Dr. Bahcall discusses

  • Present and future contributions of Hubble Space Telescope
  • The use of solar neutrinos to do astronomy
  • Dark matter
  • Dark energy
  • Manned space flight
  • The possibility of other intelligent life in the universe
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