A f***ing hard act to follow

May 28, 2004

The Royal Society's list of 2004 fellows is finally unveiled this week. But with his five-year presidency coming to an end in 2005, speculation is beginning about a much bigger announcement - who will succeed the controversial Lord May? Many regard Sir Martin Rees, the chiselled astronomer royal with an almost indecently long list of publications, as the strongest contender. He has certainly impressed the society: it announced this week that he is the latest winner of its esteemed Faraday prize for communication. But it will be interesting to see whether the popular Lord May has coloured the job description. A source close to the society said fellows had greeted his appointment with some delight because of his tendency to "call a spade a ****ing spade".

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