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Bondi, Sir Hermann

theory universe steady cambridge

(1919– ) Austrian–British mathematical physicist and astronomer: proponent of the steady-state theory for the origin of the universe.

Bondi was born in Vienna and had his schooling there, studied at Cambridge, where he held academic posts, and in 1954 was appointed professor of mathematics at King’s College, London. From 1967–84 he was in the public service (European Space Agency, Defence, Energy, Natural Environment Research Council). He was Master of Churchill College, Cambridge, 1983–90.

Bondi worked in many areas of theoretical physics and astronomy, especially the theory of gravitation (gravitational waves, etc). He is best known as one of the originators, with and , of the steady-state theory of the universe, according to which the universe looks the same at all times. On this basis it is considered to have no beginning and no end, with matter being spontaneously created from empty space as the universe expands, in order to maintain an unchanging uniform density. Although the theory enjoyed support for a number of years, the discovery of the cosmic microwave background in 1964 by and gave conclusive support to the rival ‘Big Bang’ theory. However, in provoking new lines of discussion, the steady-state theory made an important contribution to modern cosmology.

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