2018 William Thomson, Lord Kelvin Medal and Prize

Dr Helen Czerski of University College London for her contributions to championing the physics of everyday life to a worldwide audience of millions through TV programmes, a popular science book, newspaper columns, and public talks.

2018 William Thomson, Lord Kelvin Medal and Prize Dr Helen Czerski
© Alex Brenner

Dr Helen Czerski loves physics. She lives and breathes the subject by teaching, and running a research group on the physics of oceanic bubbles. For many scientists this would be enough, but Helen is also passionate about sharing with the public the beauty and wonder of physics. In 2010, after appearing in a video on YouTube, she was talent-spotted by the BBC, who saw in her something very unusual – a person who can engagingly communicate physics by taking examples from seemingly mundane aspects of everyday life. Since then, this has been her specialism, and she can truly compete with the best TV presenters in the world in holding an audience spellbound. There is no-one better on TV in unearthing, in the details of our everyday world, the passion of science.

The BBC realises this too, celebrating Helen’s brand of physics by commissioning a new TV series from her every year since 2012 – amounting to more than 30 TV programmes in the last five years. This is an extremely impressive achievement, especially when you look at the range of topics she has covered, from champagne bubbles to the physics of animal senses. Thus Helen has grown a very big and distinct TV audience who now have an appetite for everyday physics.

In addition to her TV work, Helen is a writer with an international reputation. She has two monthly columns on everyday physics, one for the BBC’s Focus magazine and one for the Wall Street Journal. For her Focus column, she was shortlisted for the ‘Columnist of the Year’ by the Professional Publishers Association in 2014. Her first book, ‘Storm in a Teacup’, was published in the UK in 2016 and has already been translated into 13 languages. It is an Amazon Best Seller in the Physical States of Matter category.

Helen is a speaker and a public champion for physics. So far, this year alone, she has given public talks at the Royal Institution, the Science Museum, the Bluedot festival, New Scientist Live and many others. Her TEDx talk on the physics of everyday life has been viewed 1.4 million times.

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