In Great Britain, the 76-year-old Cambridge-based astrophysicist Martin Rees, Lord Rees of Ludlow, is a respected figure not only for his scientific contributions but also for how he straddles the difficult territory between science, politics and literature with rare ease and confidence.
Since the 1960s, in more than 500 papers, Lord Rees has been adding to our understanding of key cosmological discoveries—especially those relating to the early universe, galaxy formation, dark matter, extreme cosmic phenomena and the possibility of a multiverse.
In the public square, Rees holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal and is one of the 23 holders of the Order of Merit, an award personally made by the queen. Among the many academies to which he belongs is the Pontifical Academy of Sciences—an international group of up to 80 scientists of all faiths and none—where he participates in discussions on earthbound issues like climate change and bioethics. As a lifetime member of the House of Lords, he speaks and legislates on science policy issues.