Roy Kerr
Roy P. Kerr  

Roy Kerr with his wife, 2009  
Born  Kurow, New Zealand  16 May 1934
Nationality  New Zealand 
Education  St. Andrew's College, Christchurch 
Alma mater 

Known for  Kerr metric 
Awards  Hector Medal (1982) Hughes Medal (1984) Rutherford Medal (1993) Albert Einstein Medal (2013) Crafoord Prize (2016) 
Scientific career  
Fields  Mathematics 
Institutions  University of Canterbury Syracuse University 
Thesis  Equations of Motion in General Relativity (1960) 
Roy Patrick Kerr FRS CNZM FRSNZ (/kɜːr/; born 16 May 1934) is a New Zealand mathematician who discovered the Kerr geometry, an exact solution to the Einstein field equation of general relativity. His solution models the gravitational field outside an uncharged rotating massive object, including a rotating black hole.^{[1]}^{[2]} His solution to Einstein's equations predicted spinning black holes before they were discovered.^{[3]}^{[4]}
Early life and education[edit]
Kerr was born in 1934 in Kurow, New Zealand.^{[5]} He was born into a dysfunctional family, and his mother was forced to leave when he was three. When his father went to war, he was sent to a farm. After his father's return from war, they moved to Christchurch. He got into St Andrew's College, a private school, as his father had served under a former headmaster.^{[6]} Kerr's mathematical talent was first recognised while he was still a high school student at St Andrew's College. Although there was no maths teacher there at the time he was able in 1951 to go straight into third year Mathematics at the Canterbury University College of the University of New Zealand, the precursor to the University of Canterbury. Their regulations did not permit him to graduate until 1954 and so it was not until September 1955 that he moved to the University of Cambridge, where he earned his PhD in 1959.^{[7]} His dissertation concerned the equations of motion in general relativity.^{[5]}
Career and research[edit]
After a stint as a postdoctoral researcher at Syracuse University, where Einstein's collaborator Peter Bergmann was professor,^{[8]}^{[9]} he spent some time working for the United States Air Force at WrightPatterson Air Force Base. Kerr speculated that the "main reason why the US Air Force had created a General Relativity section was probably to show the U.S. Navy that they could also do pure research."^{[10]}
Work at Texas and Canterbury[edit]
In 1962 Kerr joined Alfred Schild and his Relativity Group at the University of Texas at Austin. As Kerr wrote in 2009:
 By the summer of 1963, Maarten Schmidt at Caltech had shown that certain starlike objects (now called quasars) were actually distant objects emitting enormous amounts of energy. Nobody understood how they could be so bright. In an effort to unravel this mystery, several hundred astronomers, astrophysicists, and general relativists gathered for a conference in Dallas, held in early December that year. This would be the First (of what since then has become the biennial) Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics.^{[11]}
Kerr presented to the Symposium his solution to the Einstein field equations.^{[12]} In 1965, with Alfred Schild, he introduced the concept of KerrSchild perturbations and developed the KerrNewman metric.^{[13]}^{[14]}^{[15]} During his time in Texas, Kerr supervised four PhD students.
In 1971, Kerr returned to the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Kerr retired from his position as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Canterbury in 1993 after having been there for twentytwo years, including ten years as the head of the Mathematics department.
Awards and honours[edit]
 Hector Medal (1982) "for his work in theoretical physics. ... an exact solution of Einstein's equations of general relativity, ..."
 Hughes Medal (1984) "for his distinguished work on relativity, especially for his discovery of the socalled Kerr Black Hole, which has been very influential."
 Rutherford Medal (1993) "For his outstanding discoveries in the extraterrestrial world of black holes."
 Marcel Grossmann Award (2006) "for his fundamental contribution to Einstein's theory of general relativity: ..."
 Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to astrophysics (2011)^{[16]}
 Albert Einstein Medal (2013) "for his 1963 discovery of a solution to Einstein's gravitational field equations."
 Crafoord Prize (2016) "for fundamental work on rotating black holes and their astrophysical consequences."
 Canterbury Distinguished Professor (2016)
In 2008 Kerr was appointed to the Yevgeny Lifshitz ICRANet Chair in Pescara, Italy.
Fulvio Melia interviewed Kerr about his work on the solution for the book Cracking the Einstein Code: Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole Physics published in 2009.^{[17]} Kerr contributed an "Afterword" of two and a half pages.
In 2012 it was announced that Kerr would be honoured by the Albert Einstein Society in Switzerland with the 2013 Albert Einstein Medal. He is the first New Zealander to receive the prestigious award.^{[18]}
In December 2015, the University of Canterbury awarded Kerr an honorary Doctor of Science.^{[19]}
In May 2016 Kerr was awarded the Crafoord Prize in Astronomy by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Personal life[edit]
Kerr is married to Margaret.^{[6]} In 2013 they moved from Christchurch to Tauranga. Kerr was a notable bridge player representing New Zealand internationally in the mid 1970s.^{[20]} He was coauthor of the Symmetric Relay System, a bidding system in contract bridge.^{[21]}
References[edit]
 ^ Kerr, R. P. (1963). "Gravitational field of a spinning mass as an example of algebraically special metrics". Phys. Rev. Lett. 11 (5): 237–238. Bibcode:1963PhRvL..11..237K. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.11.237.
 ^ Cracking the Einstein Code by Fulvio Melia, 2009 ISBN 0226519546
 ^ Martin Rees, Just Six Numbers – The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe, Phoenix, 1999, ISBN 0 75381 022 0, page 41
 ^ Review of Cracking the Einstein Code
 ^ ^{a} ^{b} O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Roy Kerr", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
 ^ ^{a} ^{b} McCrone, John (2 March 2013). "Bright sparks and black holes". The Press. p. C2. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
 ^ Roy Kerr at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
 ^ APS site: Peter Bergmann receives Einstein prize
 ^ Obituary of Peter Bergmann
 ^ Kerr (2007). "Discovering the Kerr and KerrSchild metrics". arXiv:0706.1109 [grqc].
 ^ Roy Kerr (2009) Afterword, page 125 of Cracking the Einstein Code by Fulvio Melia
 ^ Kerr, R.P., 1963, Physical Review Letters, 11, 237. Bibcode: 1963PhRvL..11..237K doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.11.237
 ^ Kerr, R. P. & Schild, A. (1965). "Some algebraically degenerate solutions of Einstein's gravitational field equations". Proc. Symp. Appl. Math. 17: 119.
 ^ Debney, G.C.; Kerr, R. P. & Schild, A. (1969). "Solutions of the Einstein and EinsteinMaxwell Equations". J. Math. Phys. 10 (10): 1842. Bibcode:1969JMP....10.1842D. doi:10.1063/1.1664769.
 ^ Tomáš Málek (2014). "Extended KerrSchild spacetimes: General properties and some explicit examples". Classical and Quantum Gravity. 31 (18): 185013. arXiv:1401.1060. Bibcode:2014CQGra..31r5013M. doi:10.1088/02649381/31/18/185013.
 ^ "New Year honours list 2011". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
 ^ Dan Falk (7 October 2009) Review: Cracking the Einstein Code, New Scientist
 ^ Einstein Medal for NZ professor Stuff.co.nz, 20 December 2012
 ^ "Two Kiwi greats receive UC Honorary Doctorates" (Press release). University of Canterbury. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
 ^ "International record for Roy Kerr". World Bridge Federation.
 ^ Symmetric Relay System at BridgeGuys.com
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roy Patrick Kerr. 
External links[edit]
 1934 births
 Living people
 People from Kurow
 20thcentury New Zealand mathematicians
 Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge
 Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit
 Relativity theorists
 New Zealand mathematicians
 Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand
 Syracuse University alumni
 University of Canterbury alumni
 Recipients of the Rutherford Medal
 New Zealand contract bridge players
 People educated at St Andrew's College, Christchurch
 Donegall Lecturers of Mathematics at Trinity College Dublin
 Albert Einstein Medal recipients