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Fellows Directory

William Unruh

William Unruh

Professor William Unruh FRS


Elected: 2001


William Unruh is renowned for pivotal contributions to the understanding of a range of subtle problems arising at the crossroads of quantum physics, gravitational theory and cosmology. His discovery that what is defined as the vacuum by inertial observers is perceived by an accelerated observer as a thermal bath was instrumental in opening new vistas in fundamental physics and cosmology.

He also showed that black hole evaporation (the Hawking effect) was also found in other situations, opening the possibility of experimental verification of the effect in systems such as Bose–Einstein condensates, nonlinear optical systems, or even in water flow.

Professional positions

Hagler Fellow, Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University
Physics Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Astronomy and physics
    • Gravitation, Mathematical and theoretical physics, Quantum theory, Computational physics, Cosmology
  • Other
    • Science education at secondary level
  • Mathematics
    • Applied mathematics and theoretical physics


Quantum gravity, quantum field theory, black holes,  cosmology, quantum interpretation, gravity analogues,  quantum computing


  • UK-Canada Rutherford Lecture

    On 'Black holes: a theorist's laboratory'.

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