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Obituary: Professor James Lovelock

Professor James Lovelock

We are deeply saddened by the death of Birkbeck alumnus and Fellow, Professor James Lovelock, who died on 26 July 2022, the day of his 103rd birthday.

James studied chemistry at Birkbeck, just before the start of the Second World War, and in 2008 was made a Fellow of the College. He is best known as the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, the idea that the Earth is a self-regulating system, with that evidence forming Gaia theory. Among his numerous and notable inventions are the electron capture detector, making possible the detection of ozone-damaging CFC gases, and the microwave oven.

Brought up a Quaker and indoctrinated with the notion that God is a still, small voice within, James was viewed as one of the UK's most respected independent scientists and never officially retired, taking daily two-to-three-mile walks until quite recently, and publishing his book Novacene, an argument for the emergence of a new age from existing artificial intelligence systems, just before his hundredth birthday.