Felix Pirani

Created by Simon on 01/04/2016
(This is a very quick summary of Felix's extremely interesting and many-sided life. It doesn't do it justice! We'll get something better up here soon. ...)

Felix Pirani was a theoretical physicist, specialising in gravitational physics and general relativity; a supporter of disarmament and the responsible use of science; and, in later life, a writer of children’s books and an artist producing mosaics.

Felix was born in England in 1928. His family moved to Canada at the start of World War II, and he studied at the University of Western Ontario, gaining his first degree in 1948 aged just 20, and at the University of Toronto. He obtained his DSc at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1951 and a PhD in physics at Cambridge University in 1956. In 1958 Felix started teaching at King’s College London teaching) and in 1968 became professor of rational mechanics there.

In 1957 Felix independently discovered what was later called the Petrov classification, that had been separately discovered by Petrov in 1954. Felix published important research on gravitational wave solutions with Hermann Bondi and Ivor Robinson. There is more information on Felix’s research on wikipedia here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Pirani

In the 1960s Felix participated actively in political groups, including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science, that sought to challenge the military and other negative uses to which science was put.

In 1960 Felix revised the popular science book The ABC of Relativity, originally written by Bertrand Russell in 1925. In the 1990s he began writing books aimed at the general audience, such as The Universe for Beginners, and children’s books.