Professor Bill Napier , Honorary Professor, Institute for Astrobiology, Cardiff University
Bill Napier graduated in Astronomy at Glasgow University in 1966 and his subsequent career has taken him to the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh—where he was Head of Research for ten years—Italy, Oxford and Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland. He is interested in the relationship between life and the universe and is a leading authority on the celestial hazard issue. In 1979 he was principal author of the first paper to give a quantitative estimate of the impact hazard and to associate it with mass extinctions at one end of the energy scale and a significant hazard to civilisation at the other. He has co-authored three scientific books and about eighty research papers. He is a leading figure in the dynamics and physics of comets, and a pioneer of the modern versions of catastrophism. He also works on the origin and evolution of interplanetary dust, the effects of dust and small-body impacts on the Earth, and the analysis of extragalactic redshifts. He now lives in the Republic of Ireland and divides his time between astronomical research and writing novels. His first one, Nemesis, has as its theme the use of an asteroid as a weapon. He has an honorary Chair at Cardiff University, in the Centre for Astrobiology.