Roy Patrick Kerr è nato il 16 maggio del 1934 a Kurow una cittadina della regione di Otago nella parte centrale dell'Isola Sud della Nuova Zelanda.
Roy è un valente e pluri premiato matematico, conosciuto in tutto il mondo scientifico come lo scopritore della metrica di Kerr, una soluzione dell'equazione di campo di Einstein della teoria della relatività generale, che modella il campo gravitazionale al di fuori di un oggetto massivo rotante e quindi per esempio anche di un buco nero rotante.
Il talento di Kerr nella matematica fu scoperto alla scuola superiore, il St Andrew's College a Christchurch.
Ha studiato in Inghilterra all'Università di Canterbury e, successivamente, all'Università di Cambridge.
Ha effettuato un periodo da studente post-dottorato alla Syracuse University (NY - USA).
Ha lavorato per un periodo alla United States Air Force alla Wright-Patterson Air Force Base a un progetto antigravità presto interrotto.
Nel 1962 si trasferì all'Università del Texas ad Austin, dove nel 1963, scopre la sua famosa soluzione di equazione di campo di Einsten.
Nel 1965, con Alfred Schild, introdusse lo spaziotempo di Kerr-Schild.
Nel 1971, Kerr ritornato alla University of Canterbury, vi rimane fino al suo pensionamento avvenuto nel 1993.
Come bridgista ha fatto parte della Nazionale Neozelandese ed è co-autore con Walter Jones del rivoluzionario sistema "Symmetric Relay System".
Roy Patrick Kerr CNZM (born 16 May 1934) is a New Zealand mathematician who is best known for discovering the Kerr vacuum, 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.
Kerr's mathematical talent was first recognized while he was still a high school student at St Andrew's College, Christchurch. 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 Ph.D. in 1959. His dissertation concerned the difficult problem of the equations of motion in general relativity.
After a stint as a postdoctoral student at Syracuse University, where Einstein's collaborator Peter Bergmannwas professor, he spent some time working for the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson 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 Navy that they could also do pure research."
In 1962 Kerr moved to the University of Texas at Austin, where in 1963, he discovered the Kerr vacuum solution. In 1965, with Alfred Schild, he introduced the concept of Kerr-Schild spacetimes. During his time in Texas, Kerr supervised four Ph.D. students. Kerr was interviewed about his work on the solution for the book Cracking the Einstein Code: Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole Physics, for which he also wrote an afterword.
In 1971, Kerr returned to the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, where he remained until his retirement in 1993. Kerr retired from his position as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Canterbury in 1993 after having been there for twenty-two years, including ten years as the head of the Mathematics department.
In 2008 Kerr was appointed to the Yevgeny Lifshitz ICRAnet Chair in Pescara, Italy.
His life was the subject of the semi-biographical book Cracking the Einstein Code by Fulvio Melia, published in 2009.
Kerr was a notable bridge player representing New Zealand internationally. He was co-author of the Symmetric Relay System, a bidding system.
In 2012 it was announced that Kerr would be honoured by the Albert Einstein Society in Switzerland with the 2013 Albert Einstein Medal. He will be the first New Zealander to receive the prestiguous award.
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