Joseph Silk

Universite Pierre et Marie Curie

Primary Section: 13, Physics
Secondary Section: 12, Astronomy
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2014)


Joseph Silk is Homewood Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a researcher at Institutd’Astrophysique de Paris and Service d’Astrophysique, CEA Saclay in France. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Beecroft Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at the University of Oxford. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Silk has received many awards, including the 2011 International Balzan Foundation Prize. He has published more than 700 articles and several popular books.

Research Interests

Most of his scientific research is related to cosmology and particle astrophysics. His specialties include the cosmic microwave background, the fossil radiation from the beginning of the universe; formation of the galaxies; and exploration of the nature of the dark matter that is the dominant form of matter in the observable universe. He discovered the Silk damping mass, a key component of the Big Bang theory of modern cosmology, and his predictions of the associated damping of cosmic microwave background radiation fluctuations have been verified by several recent experiments.

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