He married Eleanor Mabel Allen in 1918. Their daughter Cathleen was born in 1923 and daughter Isabel born in 1930. Synge's daughter Cathleen Synge Morawetz went on to become a distinguished mathematician too. Synge's uncle John Millington Synge was a famous playwright, and Synge is more distantly related to the 1952 Nobel prizewinner in chemistry Richard Laurence Millington Synge.
He spent some of 1939 at Princeton University, and in 1941, he was a visiting professor at Brown University. In 1943 he was appointed as Chairman of the Mathematics Department of Ohio State University. Three years later he became Head of the Mathematics Department of the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where John Nash was one of his students. He spent a short time as a ballistic mathematician in the US Air Force between 1944 and 1945.
He returned to Ireland in 1948, accepting the position of Senior Professor in the School of Theoretical Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. This school had been set up in 1940, and had several outstanding members, including Erwin Schrödinger (who contributed to quantum mechanics), who was also a Senior Professor.
He was one of the first physicists to seriously study the interior of a black hole, and is sometimes credited with anticipating the discovery of the structure of the Schwarzschild vacuum (a black hole).
John Lighton Synge retired in 1972, and during his time at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, about 12% of all workers in the relativity theory studied there. Professor Herman Bondi, who gave the first J. L. Synge Public Lecture in 1992, had this to say: “Every one of the other 88% has been deeply influenced by his geometric vision and the clarity of his expression”.
During his long scientific career, Synge published over 200 papers and 11 books.
The John L. Synge Award was established by the Royal Society of Canada, in 1986, to honour John Lighton Synge, one of the first mathematicians working in Canada to be internationally recognised for his research in mathematics. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and was at the University of Toronto, and later a senior Professor at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
The Irish pioneer who inspired Hawking ; Stephen Hawking's work on black holes and the possibility of parallel universes have depended on the theories of a mathematician who died 150 years ago, writes Leo Enright
Jul 29, 2004; When Stephen Hawking came to Dublin last week and changed yet again the way we think about the universe he did so with the help...