86 Eminent Physicists
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Her Own Words
Some Physics History
500+ Books and Articles
Some Important Contributions:
"Burbidge, Burbidge, Fowler, and Hoyle combined what we would now call
fragmentary evidence from nuclear physics, stellar evolution and the abundances
of elements and isotopes in the solar system as well as a few stars into
a synthesis of remarkable ingenuity. Their review provided a foundation
for forty years of research in all of the aspects of low energy nuclear
experiments and theory, stellar modeling over a wide range of mass and
composition, and abundance studies of many hundreds of stars, many of which
have shown distinct evidence of the processes suggested by B2FH." -- See
"Synthesis of the elements in stars: forty years of progress." by G. Wallerstein,
et al. Rev. Mod. Phys. 69:995 (1997).
Additional important publications chosen and annotated by Professor Burbidge.
I was the first person to use the long-slit method of measuring spectroscopically
the rotations of galaxies (at McDonald Observatory, then run by U. Chicago).
We developed formulae for deriving the masses and mass-to-light ratios.
"The Rotation, Mass Distribution and Mass of NGC 5055," Astrophys. J
Collection of our results on galaxies over several years.
"The Masses of Galaxies", in Galaxies and the Universe, Vol IX of
Stars and Stellar Systems, U. Chicago Press, 1975, with G. Burbidge.
Held the record for the largest QSO redshift for many years; was listed
for many years in the Guinness Book of Records.
"Redshift of OQ 172" Nature 243:336 (1973), with Wampler,
I was at Goddard Space Flight Center when the first ultraviolet spectrum
of a quasar (UM 675) was obtained with the Faint Object Spectrograph on
the Hubble Space Telescope - published
in Astrophys. J. Letters,377, L1, 1991.We identified the highly
ionised element Neon VIII from a line we measured at 2417 angstroms (the
rest wavelength being 770 angstroms). Our whole team (led at that
time by myself) co-authored the paper.
My American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science Presidential Address,
described the results from the Voyagers and the Viking Lander on Mars,
and my view of some of the dangers facing the world (environment, nuclear
"Operation of the Faint Object Spectrograph," Proc. SPIE 445:410
(1984), with Harms, Beaver, et al.
Since I was one of the first people to measure ANY spectroscopic dataon
QSOs, including redshifts, and Geoffrey and I put my data together
with the physical analysis of the data and gathered our work together into
the 1967 book, this book remained the standard text on quasars
for some 20 years. It contains many so-called discoveries on
the nature of quasars.
"Quasi-Stellar Objects", San Fransisco, 1967, with G. Burbidge,
"Observations of QSOs which are Critical for Cosmology", in "The Universe
at Large: Key Issues in Astronomy and Cosmology," ed. Guido Munch,
Antonio Mampaso, Francisco Sanchez, Cambridge U. Press, 1997.
Helen Warner Prize, American Astronomical Society with Geoffrey Burbidge
Fellow, Royal Society of London 1964 Fellow, American Academy of Arts
and Sciences 1970
Elected to National Academy of Sciences 1978
President, American Astronomical Society 1976-78
Bruce Medal, Astronomical Society Pacific 1982
National Medal of Science 1984 (AMWS 1992-93 states that she recieved
this award in 1985)
Russell Prize 1984
Albert Einstein World Award of Science Medal 1988
1946-51 Assistant Director and Acting Director, The University of London
1954-57 Research Fellow, California Institute of Technology
1959-62 Associate Professor, University of Chicago
1962-64 Associate Professor, University of California, San Diego
1964-90 Professor, University of California, San Diego
1990 - present Professor emeritus, University of California, San Diego
1972-73 Director, Royal Greenwich Observatory, England (on leave from
1979-88 Director, University of California Center for Astrophysics
and Space Sciences
B.Sc. University of London 1939
Ph.D. University of London 1943
Sources and References consulted:
E. Margaret Burbidge, [1EE
An autobiographical account which appeared as "Watcher of the Skies," Annu.
Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 32:1-36 (1994)
Margaret Burbidge, President-Elect" written by Vera
Rubin on the occasion of Burbidge's election as President of American
Association for the Advancement of Science.
E. Margaret Burbidge remembers introducing Vera
Rubin to studies of velocity fields of galaxies by the long-slit method
in work they did together at UC San Diego in 1964. Published work:
"A study of the velocity field in M82 and its bearing on explosive phenomena
in that galaxy." E. M. Burbidge, G. R. Burbidge, and V. C. Rubin Astrophys.
J.(USA) 140: 942 (1964).
Burbidge is married to the astronomer Geoffrey R. Burbidge.
Professor Ferdinand Coroniti