David Block

Inspirational Speaker and Astronomer, BHP Billiton Award, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of London


Professor David Block was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of London at the age of 19.

His first research paper, on relativistic astrophysics, was published in London, by the Royal Astronomical Society, at age 20.

He serves as Professor in the School of Computer Science & Applied Mathematics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

He holds a Master of Science degree in relativistic astrophysics and a PhD specializing in the morphology of spiral galaxies.

Professor Block has been a visiting research scientist at the Australian National University, the European Southern Observatory in Germany, Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology and the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, amongst others.

Professor Block is the only scientist on the continent of Africa whose research work has *twice* been featured on the cover of the world’s most prestigious scientific journal “NATURE’.

In 2006, Professor Block received the University of the Witwatersrand's highest research accolade: the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award.

Professor David Block accompanied the world's most famous living scientist, Stephen Hawking, to meet former President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg.

More recently, he received the BHP Billiton/NSTF Award, which recognizes South Africa’s foremost Communicator in Science.

David is married to Elizabeth, who lectures in Geography at the Auckland Park Campus of the University of Johannesburg. They have three sons, Aaron (24) and 17-year-old twin boys, Nathanael and Tevye, named Khethile and Nkwenkwezi by former President Nelson Mandela.

This is how world-renowned US astronomer John Kormendy describes the career of our speaker at Emperor’s Palace this afternoon:

“David Block is to South Africa what Carl Sagan was to American astronomy – his pioneering discoveries are reshaping astronomical paradigms, and his imprint on human culture is a legacy to all South Africans as you build your future in the technological 21st century.”

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