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Martin John Rees (born 23 June 1942 in York) is an English cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004, and President of the Royal Society since 2005.
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- Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
- As quoted in Project Cyclops: A Design Study of a System for Detecting Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life (1971) by Bernard M. Oliver, and John Billingham, Ch. 2 : Life in the Universe, p. 3 ; this has frequently misattributed to Carl Sagan, who quoted it in some of his presentations.
- Once the threshold is crossed when there is a self-sustaining level of life in space, then life's long-range future will be secure irrespective of any of the risks on Earth (with the single exception of the catastrophic destruction of space itself). Will this happen before our technical civilisation disintegrates, leaving this as a might-have-been? Will the self-sustaining space communities be established before a catastrophe sets back the prospect of any such enterprise, perhaps foreclosing it for ever? We live at what could be a defining moment for the cosmos, not just for our Earth.
- Our Final Hour: A Scientist's Warning (2003)
- We’re all depressingly ‘lay’ outside our specialisms — my own knowledge, of recent biological advances, such as it is, comes largely from ‘popular’ books and journalism.
- as quoted by Jessica Bland in Martin Rees looks back to understand why 'scientific citizens' will be important in the future. In Verba, The Royal Society (16 January 2012).
- No one can say which approach is the right one — so no one can say how close we are to a solution.
- On developing a unification of quantum theory, relativity and classical physics, "Conversation with Martin Rees" at the Templeton Foundation (1 June 2012)
- When I discover I'm wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?
- overheard in a colloquium at Princeton University, ca. 1997
Quotes about Rees
- This is exactly the kind of thing Templeton is ceaselessly angling for – recognition among real scientists – and they use their money shamelessly to satisfy their doomed craving for scientific respectability. They tried it on with the Royal Society of London, and they seem to have found a compliant Quisling in the current President, Martin Rees, who, though not religious himself, is a fervent 'believer in belief'.