William Thomson, Lord Kelvin Medal and Prize

This award was instituted by the Council of the Institute of Physics in October 1994 in recognition of the importance of promoting public awareness of the place of physics in the world. In 2016 the award was elevated to the Gold Medals to recognise the importance of outreach within the physics community.

The physicist behind the medal
Sir William Thomson, Lord Kelvin was a Scottish–Irish mathematician and physicist best known for his work on thermodynamics, including that on the absolute temperature scale – the unit of absolute temperature, the kelvin, is named after him. Thomson acted a scientific adviser for the laying of the first Atlantic telegraph cables in 1857–58 and 1865–66, for which he received a knighthood from Queen Victoria.

He served as the president of the Royal Society over 1890–95, and was a winner of its Copley Medal and Royal Medal, the Royal Society of the Arts’ Albert Medal and the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Keith Medal. He was ennobled a Baron Kelvin of Largs in 1892.

The award shall be made for outstanding and sustained contributions to public engagement within physics. The medal will be gold and will be accompanied by a prize of £1000 and a certificate.