Created by Simon on 04/01/2016
(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.