Theoretical astrophysicist Dick Bond receives honours from the Canadian and American physics communities

October 24, 2023 by Chris Sasaki - A&S News

Renowned astrophysicist and cosmologist, University Professor Dick Bond of the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA), has received two prestigious honours from the Canadian and American physics communities.

The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) has named Bond a CAP Fellow, a distinction previously bestowed on Canadian Nobel laureates Arthur B. McDonald and Donna Strickland. The distinction recognizes an individual’s service to the Canadian physics community and their noteworthy contributions to physics research.

The American Physical Society has awarded Bond the Hans A. Bethe Prize for developing conceptual and quantitative tools that have enabled cosmologists to measure the geometry, content and age of the universe. The award bears the name of the German American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in 1967.

"Both distinctions are exceptional honours and we are delighted to see ‘CITAzens’ recognized for their contributions to astrophysics,” says Juna Kollmeier, CITA director. 

“For decades, Professor Bond has thought very deeply about the cosmos and the meaning of the universe's fantastic imperfections. The field is grateful to him for his role in developing the framework for understanding these fluctuations and in bringing theory and observation together. He is developing new techniques as he enters a new season of his career, and we hope he follows in Hans Bethe's footsteps with another fruitful and enduring season ahead."

Says Melanie Woodin, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science, “We are very excited to celebrate Professor Bond receiving these honours. CITA has always been a jewel in U of T’s crown and Bond is one of the reasons for the institute’s reputation and achievements. He has helped us better understand the fundamental nature of the universe, so it is no surprise that the physics community is honouring him with these distinctions.”

Throughout his distinguished career, Bond has investigated the physics of the very early universe; cosmic radiation backgrounds; dark matter and dark energy; particle and gravitational theory”; and the origin and evolution of cosmic structure — it was Bond who first coined the term “cosmic web” to describe the strands of matter connecting galaxies. He is perhaps best known for developing the theory and analysis of cosmic microwave background radiation fluctuations into a high precision tool for exploring the cosmos.

“I was pleased to see the FCAP award recognized, not just my research, but the role I’ve played through CITA and CIFAR in helping Canada become a powerhouse in theoretical astrophysics in institutions all across Canada,” says Bond. “I am honoured to be in only the second cohort receiving this distinction.

“The Hans-Bethe Prize is of great importance to me, because of Bethe’s singular role in nuclear astrophysics and my encounters with him over the years. In fact, my obsession with entropy as a way to understand all cosmic evolution — from the early universe to the development of our interconnected cosmic web to life — largely began because of his clarity about the role of entropy in supernovae core collapse, which I built on, and am still building on.

“In 1979, I talked about entropy, neutrinos and supernovae at the first Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics program, where Bethe, old then, was the core of all that was going on. And he paid attention to what this young researcher was saying.”

Bond is a member of the Atacama Cosmology Telescope collaboration and was a member of the Planck Space Telescope collaboration that won the 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize.

Bond adds the honours to a long list of previous distinctions, a partial list of which includes being named a Fellow by the Royal Society, Royal Society of Canada, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the American Astrophysical Society and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He is a recipient of the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering from NSERC and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. Most recently, he was elected a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy.