In 1973 I obtained a First Class Honours degree (B.Sc) in Physics from the University of Exeter. The degree course was in Experimental Physics, but throughout it I was increasingly interested in the mathematics behind the physics, and tried to change my course to Theoretical Physics, but was not successful. Nevertheless, I was as theoretical and mathematical as was possible in the Experimental Physics course!
After, I went to Sussex University, where I did research in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, obtaining my doctorate (D.Phil degree).
For the mathematics, my speciality was 2nd order partial differential equations, and I discovered a new way to obtain interesting solutions from the Painleve-Gambier equation, which is a generalized highly non-linear partial differential equation. This research was published in the Journal of Sound and Vibration.
I looked round for some practical application for what I had discovered, and I turned my attention to Einstein's General Relativity Field equations, which are a set of strongly non-linear partial differential equations. I obtained some new solutions for these in the case of spherically symmetric mass distributions, using the ansatz method, whereby one stipulates a relationship between the coefficients of the equation so that the equation can be solved in closed form. One then looks to see if the resulting solution is useful, valid or even interesting.
One of the very few mass-energy distributions for which Eintein's General Field equations have been solved in closed form is the spherically symmetric distribution, and I did a very thorough review of all these solutions since the first one was obtained in 1916. I found 104 such solutions in the literature, and this was the first time that anyone had gathered them altogether and reviewed them as a whole.
I applied some very reasonable physical criteria to these solutions - for example, that pressure should decrease outwards in a spherically symmetric mass distribution - and found that much fewer than the 104 were actually physically realistic. I then applied some further very general criteria, and found that only 6 out of the 104 were not only physically realistic, but were also physically interesting.
My own solutions were not only physically realistic and interesting by these same criteria, but were actually much more so than any of the previous solutions.
I ended my thesis by applying my own solutions to actual models of neutron stars (which of course are spherically symmetric, at least to a good approximation), and found that you could get a remarkably accurate match.
This work not only got me my D.Phil. for original and interesting research which furthered scientific knowledge, but was published as a number of articles in the leading international scientific journals on Physics and Gravity.
In December 2006 I was awarded a Fellowship of the International Society For Philosophers for my paper A Metaphysics Of Distinction, Performance And Practice.