Obituary Notice for Dr Andrew Chamblin
Andrew was born in Lubbock, Texas and brought up in nearby Amarillo, but he was far from being everybody's idea of a typical Texan. Cultured and talented in many ways he retained an independent outlook on life and a distinctive sense of humour. He radiated good cheerfulness and was quick to make friends. His early death greatly shocked and upset all who knew him. After a brilliant undergraduate career culminating in a BA in Mathematics at Rice University in Texas, Andrew spent the year 1991-1992 at Christ Church, Oxford studying Twistor Theory and Global Methods in General Relativity with Professor Sir Roger Penrose.
He then moved to St John's College, Cambridge to
take a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics under the joint supervision
of Professors Gary Gibbons and Stephen Hawking at the Department
of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics. Andrew was awarded a
J.T. Knight Essay Prize and successfully defended his thesis
Aspects of Topology in Classical and Quantum Gravity.
He was also elected a Fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society.
During this time his interests turned from Twistors and Classical
Relativity to Quantum Gravity and the newly emerging synthesis of
Superstring Theory and Supergravity, now known as M-Theory, to
which over the next few years he made a number of striking
contributions using to the full his powerful geometric intuition
and deep understanding of General Relativity.
Andrew was a brilliant speaker and lecturer and after being elected to a Drapers' Research Fellowship at Pembroke College, Cambridge and then holding post-doctoral appointments at University of California Santa-Barbara, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Los Alamos National Laboratory and a PPARC Research Fellowship at Queen Mary College, London, he was appointed an Assistant Professor and University Scholar at the University of Louisville, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Kentucky. Andrew published over 50 peer-reviewed papers in his field and delivered many of these papers at international conferences around the world. He loved his research but he also greatly enjoyed lecturing and teaching, once receiving a standing ovation for a lecture he gave at the University of Chicago.
As well as being a brilliant theoretical physicist, Andrew had many other talents. He was an accomplished organist and harpsichordist, being especially fond of Bach, and a keen runner and golfer. He loved the outdoors and was especially taken by the magnificent scenery of New Mexico. While living in the Southwest, Andrew took great pride in having climbed all of the Fourteeners mountain peaks in Colorado. He also ran in several marathons over the years.
It was at Louisville that his tragic and completely unexpected death occurred on the 6th February 2006. His passing deeply affected all of his friends and colleagues. Some measure of the degree of affection and respect in which Andrew was held may be gained from the many warm and fulsome tributes to him displayed online.
His last major work was on the possibility of producing microscopic black holes in collider experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva and it gives a glimpse of what he might have achieved had he lived longer. For those in his field surviving him, he has left behind not only his legacy of work and ideas to call upon, but also the memory of the joy with which they were achieved. All who knew him recall his almost ever-present smile.
The Andrew Chamblin Memorial Lecture Fund has been established at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge in order to endow an annual lecture in Andrew's name in perpetuity at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.