R.I.P. Jim Bardeen (1939-2022)

I was saddened this morning to hear news of the death at the age of 83 of Jim Bardeen who passed away on June 20th 2022. Jim – the son of John Bardeen, who won two Nobel physics prizes – did important work in theoretical cosmology and general relativity. In my own field of cosmology he is probably best known for his work on perturbation theory where he clarified many longstanding issues about gauge-dependence and as the first author of the famous and heavily cited “BBKS” (Bardeen, Bond, Kaiser & Szalay) paper, published in 1986:


I received this as a very hefty preprint when I started my graduate studies back in 1985 and it scared the hell out of me. I still have the photocopy of the published version I made when it came out (in the days when PhD meant Doctor of Photocopying). You can find the paper on the NASA/ADS system here.

I met Jim Bardeen only once, at an Aspen Summer Workshop back in the 90s. He was a very shy and modest man but very kindly and polite. I remember a couple of times out hiking with him, when a discussion about physics was going on he would keep quiet until he had figured out what he thought and when he did choose to speak it was usually brief and invariably very incisive. He didn’t write all that many papers either, but those he did publish were invariably excellent.

Rest in peace, James Maxwell Bardeen (1939-2022)

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