Dr Graham Farmelo

Subject History
Fellow type Extraordinary
Year started 2017


Graham Farmelo is a science writer, consultant in science communication and an Adjunct Professor in Physics at Northeastern University Boston, USA. He is author of ‘The Strangest Man’, a biography of the theoretical physicist Paul Dirac that won the 2009 Costa Prize for Biography and the 2010 Los Angeles Times Prize for Science and Technology writing. His other books include ‘Churchill’s Bomb’, which he researched mainly in the Churchill Archives Centre, and the collection of essays ‘It Must Be Beautiful’, about some of the great equations of twentieth-century science, with contributions from several distinguished historians and scientists.

After taking his PhD in theoretical particle physics at the University of Liverpool in 1977, he was appointed a lecturer in physics at the Open University, where he taught for thirteen years. From 1990 to 2002, he was an executive at the Science Museum, London, responsible for the vision of the Museum’s Wellcome Wing and founding director of the Dana Centre. There, he led many art-science initiatives, including the appointment of Lavinia Greenlaw as poet-in-residence at the Museum, and established the new format of lectures that feature actors playing leading scientists, such as Michael Faraday.

Farmelo has co-edited several collections of essays about contemporary museology, including ‘Creating Connections’ (2004). Since 2004, Farmelo has been a frequent visitor to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he wrote most of his subsequent books. He writes regularly for the press, notably national newspapers and magazines - including ‘The Guardian’, The Wall Street Journal’, ‘Nature’ and ‘Scientific American’ - and has written over six hundred book reviews and feature articles. He has frequently appeared on BBC Radio 4, notably on the Today Programme, In Our Time and Saturday Review. He has lectured on physics all over the world, notably on the life and work of Paul Dirac, and the early history of quantum mechanics.

In 2011, he was appointed Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association, and a year later won the Kelvin Prize and Medal for his contributions to the public understanding of physics.