Professor Sir David MacKay, who has passed away aged 48Archive

Tributes have been paid to Professor Sir David MacKay, the University of Cambridge's Regius Professor of Engineering, who has passed away today at Addenbrooke's Hospital aged 48.

MacKay served as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change between 2009 and 2014. He rose to prominence with the publication of his 2008 book  Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air, a ‘straight-talking book about the numbers’ of sustainable energy.

Upon hearing the news, the university announced: "We are very sorry to hear of the death of David MacKay. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Ed Miliband MP, the former leader of the Labour Party, paid tribute to MacKay by saying he was "passionate, original, brave" and "a truly good man". 

MacKay had been diagnosed with terminal cancer last year and documented his illness on a personal blog. In his most recent blog post, he thanked those who had offered to visit him in hospital.

A graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, MacKay later studied as a Fulbright Scholar at Caltech, before being appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2009. He was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours List "for services to Scientific Advice in Government and Science Outreach."

Among MacKay's numerous contributions during his career was 'Dasher', a communication application that was popular with those unable to use a traditional keyboard.

He also co-founded knowledge management company Transversal, which was named one of the UK's 20 fastest-growing venture companies in 2007. 

The physicist had in the past weighed in on the Paris climate talks, co-penning an opinion piece in the international science journal Nature, which called for delegates to take heed of ‘the science of cooperation’ and advocated the introduction of ‘a global carbon price commitment.’

In September last year he was awarded the 2016 Breakthrough Paradigm Award "in recognition of his excellence in energy and climate change analyses". 

The Breakthrough Institute described him as an "engaging author, science communicator, researcher, and policy advisor" who has been "praised for making his work both readable and applicable."

Julian Huppert, the former MP for Cambridge, said he was "absolutely distraught to hear" of MacKay's death.

"It was an honour and a privilege to know him and to work with him. Great man."