2009 Kelvin medal and prize

Professor John D Barrow

University of Cambridge

For the promotion and explanation of physics and astronomy to young people and the general public through many books, lectures, broadcasts and drama with special reference to their wider cultural and historical importance.

John Barrow has been a prolific populariser of physics and astronomy for over 25 years. He has reached large and diverse audiences through his many books, broadcasts, an award-winning play, magazine articles, and talks. He regularly gives about 45 public lectures each year. He is the first person since 1657 to hold Gresham chairs in two different subjects (astronomy and geometry). He is the 2008-9 President of BAAS Physics Section.

He is the Director of the Millennium Mathematics Project, an initiative to improve public understanding and appreciation of mathematics and its scientific applications, especially amongst school students and teachers. It receives over 200 million hits on its websites per annum. It received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2006.

His play ‘Infinities’, directed by Luca Ronconi, was seen by more than 90,000 people in Milan and Valencia and was awarded the Italian ‘Olivier’ award, the Premi Ubu, for the best work in the Italian theatre in 2002.

Barrow’s books cover a vast range of subjects that enlarge the appreciation of the historical, cultural, and interdisciplinary qualities of physics and astronomy. He combines and informs all this activity with high-level physics research, having published 435 papers in cosmology and astrophysics.