Professor Jim Al-Khalili CBE

  • British scientist (theoretical physicist), author and broadcaster

  • Best known as the host of Radio 4’s The Life Scientific

  • Quantum physicist at the University of Surrey

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Professor Jim Al-Khalili CBE | NMP Live
About

Jim Al-Khalili is an academic, author, broadcaster and one of the UK’s best known science communicators.

He is probably best known as the host the long-running weekly BBC Radio 4 programme, The Life Scientific. In his ‘day job’, Jim is a quantum physicist at the University of Surrey where he holds a Distinguished Chair in physics as well as a university chair in the public engagement in science.

Jim has fronted a number of radio documentaries, mainly on BBC4, including Chemistry: A Volatile History, which was nominated for a BAFTA in 2010.

On television, Jim has presented Horizon: The Hunt for the Higgs (BBC2, 2012); Brave New World (Channel 4, 2011); Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity (BBC4, 2011); Horizon: Fukushima: Can We Trust Nuclear Power? (BBC2, 2011); Everything and Nothing, (BBC4, 2011); Genius of Britain, (Channel 4, 2010); Chemistry: A Volatile History, (BBC4, 2010) ; The Secret Life of Chaos (BBC4, 2010); Science and Islam (BBC4, 2009); Lost Horizons: The Big Bang (BBC4, 2008); Atom (BBC4, 2007); The Riddle of Einstein's Brain (Channel 4, 2004).

The son of an English mother and Arab father, Jim Al-Khalili was born and raised in Iraq, but left the country with his parents in 1979. After completing his A-levels in 1982, he studied physics at the University of Surrey and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1986. Despite having a job lined up at the National Physical Laboratories, he stayed on at Surrey to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree in nuclear reaction theory, which he obtained in 1989.

His academic career in theoretical nuclear physics began with a postdoctoral research fellowship at University College London, after which he returned to the University of Surrey, where he was appointed as a lecturer in 1992 and where he continues to teach and conduct his research in quantum physics.

In 1994, Professor Al-Khalili was awarded an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Advanced Research Fellowship for five years, during which time he established himself as a leading expert on mathematical models of exotic atomic nuclei. He has published widely in his field.

He has been a Senior Adviser to the British Council, Vice President of the British Science Association and a past judge on both the Samuel Johnson book prize and the Art Fund prize.

Jim was honoured with an OBE in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours List and a CBE in 2021, both for ‘services to science and public engagement in STEM’. He was also the youngest ever recipient of the Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize for science communication in 2007.

His popular science books have been translated into 26 languages and include Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines, Nucleus: A Trip into the Heart of Matter, Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed, Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science, Paradox: Nine Great Engimas in Physics and the forthcoming Quantum Life: How Fundamental Physics is Revolutionising Biology.

His book on Medieval Arabic Science, Pathfinders, was shortlisted for the Warwick Prize latest book, and his 2020 book, The World According to Physics, was shortlisted for the Royal Society Book Prize.

Speech Topics

Speech topics include:

• The nature of space and time, the big bang, black holes
• Astronomy
• Quantum physics and biology
• AI and consciousness

Videos

Fireside chat/interview

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Books and DVDs

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