I am currently an EPSRC-funded Research Associate jointly appointed at the University of Cambridge and University College, London. I have my main office in the Theory of Condensed Matter (TCM) Group at the Cavendish Laboratory -- the Cambridge physics department -- where I have worked since 1996. From 2002 until 2012 I was a Royal Society Research Fellow and a College Lecturer at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. I am also the director of the Apuan Alps Centre for Physics in Tuscany, Italy.
What I do in the Cavendish and elsewhere
I do research in quantum physics from my bases in Cambridge and London in the U.K., and Tuscany in Italy (having a somewhat 21st-century attitude to physical location, I might actually be found at any of these places at any given time with your best bet being my office in the Cavendish Laboratory). I collaborate in particular with the groups of Richard Needs at Cambridge, Dario Alfè at UCL, and Matthew Foulkes at Imperial College.
One of my main research interests is the super-accurate quantum Monte Carlo method widely used in computational electronic structure theory; I am the principal author of the CASINO quantum Monte Carlo software, written over many years principally with my colleagues Neil Drummond and Pablo López Ríos. I also (infamously) have a long-standing interest in the de Broglie Bohm ('pilot-wave') theory of quantum physics, which is probably one of the principal reasons why I continue not to have a proper job. ;-)
I own a 15th century monastery in Tuscany that I run as a science institute ("The Apuan Alps Centre for Physics") and events venue, and my wife Sam Keil uses as her Italian art and sculpture studio. Every year I organize workshops and summer schools on various topics at this venue - see the web page for more details.
Off and on since 2001 I have organized the Electronic Structure Discussion Group, a weekly discussion forum where researchers and students in the TCM Group (and interested colleagues in other departments) get together to present and chat about their work. Contact me if you want to be added to the mailing list.
In my spare time - such as it is - I'm interested, in no particular order, in antique books, Etruscan archaeology, caving, climbing, and mountaineering, the Victorian explorer Richard F. Burton, old sailing ships, taxidermy, Victorian science (especially the dangerous stuff), Italian poetry, mathematical recreation, and astronomy. I also like to produce bad translations of old Italian manuscripts (see for example here).
Some peripheral activities in TCM:
I supposedly oversee the various group libraries. TCM users of the New Coffee Library or the TCM Library should email me if they want to borrow a book. In principle, having designed and built it back in 1999 with the help of Derek the Cavendish Carpenter (now sadly missed), I'm also in charge of the TCM Coffee Bar - and I give an annual lecture in October on the best way to make cappuccinos..
I used to run TCM Films - a weekly trip to get physicists to the cinema to see poncy art movies and argue about them afterwards over a glass of wine - but after many years this sadly ran out of steam due to widespread lack of interest and the short attention span of Young People Nowadays. Maybe one day it will be resurrected. Here is a list of Every Film We Ever Saw in 5 years of operation.
My research interests
What a diamond would look like if you were very small.
Publications, current projects and talks
The Apuan Alps Centre for Physics
I am the owner of the Towler Institute, a large 16th century former monastery situated on the outskirts of a mediaeval village in the Apuan Alps national park in Northern Tuscany. It hosts my science institute (the "Apuan Alps Centre for Physics") plus an art school (associated with my wife Sam) and is used as an events venue. The monastery's chapel hosts scientific summer schools and workshops, plus occasional art events, and it is the ideal summer getaway for people seeking peace and inspiration for work. Follow the link above for further details.
Other places where I have worked
Starring Television Roles
Links and miscellaneous stuff