UCL News


UCL science historian shortlisted for Aventis Prize

20 April 2006

Professor Arthur Miller (UCL Science & Technology Studies) has been shortlisted for the Aventis Prize for Science Writing, for his book 'Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship, and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes'.

Professor Arthur Miller The result will be announced at an award ceremony at The Royal Society on 16th May 2006. Now in their 18th year, the Aventis Prizes for Science Books are awarded for high quality and accessible writing on science, with General and Junior categories for titles aimed at adults and children. Previous winners of the £10,000 prizes have included Stephen Hawking and Bill Bryson.

Shortlisted for the General Prize, 'Empire of the Stars' tells the story of how in August 1930, on a voyage from Madras to London, a young Indian looked up at the stars and contemplated their fate. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar - Chandra, as he was called - calculated that certain stars would suffer a violent death, collapsing virtually to nothing. This extraordinary claim, the first mathematical description of black holes, rankled one of the greatest astrophysicists of the day, Sir Arthur Eddington. When Chandra expounded his theory in front of the assembled great and good of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1935, Eddington subjected him to humiliating public ridicule, thereby setting into motion one of the greatest scientific feuds of the twentieth century - and hindering the progress of astrophysics for nearly forty years.

Professor Miller said: "I am delighted and honoured by the Royal Society's recognition of my book."

To find out more, follow the links at the bottom of this article.

Image: Professor Arthur Miller