2008 Kelvin medal and prize
Dr Simon Singh
Writer and broadcaster
For his work in popularising physics and mathematics through books, articles and broadcasts. He is one of the foremost exponents of science to the general public. His books on Fermat’s last theorem, cosmology and on cryptography have been hugely influential.
The Kelvin medal and prize for outstanding contributions to the public understanding of physics has been awarded to Dr Simon Singh, writer and broadcaster, for his work in popularising physics and mathematics through books, articles and broadcasts. He is one of the foremost exponents of science to the general public. His books on Fermat’s last theorem, cosmology and on cryptography have been hugely influential.
Dr Singh began his career as a physicist, obtaining his first degree from Imperial College London. He completed his PhD in particle physics at the University of Cambridge where he worked as part of the UA2 collaboration at CERN.
Singh then moved into broadcasting and writing and rapidly became known for his skill in making difficult but fascinating mathematical and scientific subjects accessible to a broad audience. He co-produced the Horizon TV programme on how Andrew Wiles proved Fermat’s last theorem, which won a BAFTA in 1996. The documentary was incredibly moving and brought to life, for a general audience, what it means to be a creative mathematician or scientist.
This broadcasting triumph was matched by his ability to write equally accessible but scientifically accurate books. In 1997, Fermat's Last Theorem became the first book about mathematics to become a number one bestseller in the UK; it was followed in 1999 by The Code Book , on the history of codes and code-breaking from ancient Egypt to the Internet, and more recently, Big Bang, a history of cosmology.
Dr Singh has continued to broadcast on radio as well as writing extensively for magazines and newspapers, and is a highly respected commentator on scientific matters. He is deeply committed to inspiring young people to take up science, and, as a mentor and speaker, has been hugely influential in promoting an appreciation of the value of science amongst the general public.