2012 Kelvin medal and prize
Dr Graham Farmelo, Churchill College, Cambridge.
For his outstanding work in communicating science to a broad audience, in particular for his biography of Paul Dirac.
Graham Farmelo, started his career as a physics lecturer at the Open University. During his time there, he wrote and presented 20 television and eight radio programmes. He was then made Director of the Science Foundation Course which introduced science to 100 000 students world-wide. In 1990 he moved to the Science Museum as Head of Interpretation and Education, where he led the Science Museum’s Education Unit to national pre-eminence, directing the re-configuration of all the schools’ programmes towards the national curriculum. He also pioneering children’s museum sleep-overs in the UK and was responsible for directing many conferences focusing on the presentation of contemporary science in museums and science centres. He became Director of exhibitions at the Wellcome Wing in 1996, where he was responsible for the original vision and content. In 2002 whilst still at the Science Museum, he became Director of the Dana Centre project, the world’s first purpose built public-science engagement centre for adults.
He has worked as an independent writer and public engagement consultant since 2003. During this time he has made numerous appearances on BBC TV including ‘Nothing’ (BBC4) and ‘Beautiful Equations’ (BBC4) and BBC Radio 4. He has also advised many organisations (including the IOP) on the promotion of research to a wider audience.
His book ‘The Strangest Man: the life and times of Paul Dirac’, published in the UK in 2009 by Faber, was the Physics World book of the year and in 2010 won the Costa prize for biography and the LA Times science writing prize. This book brought the science and life of Paul Dirac, a physicist little known to the general public, but one of the most important scientists ever produced by the UK, to a broader audience. This was an immense and quite original achievement.