I am a former Royal Society research fellow and current Visiting Research Associate working four days a week in the Theory of Condensed Matter (TCM) Group at the Cavendish Laboratory - the physics department of the University of Cambridge (I have held a position in TCM since 1996). Since 2002 I have also been a College Lecturer at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. I work one day a week at University College, London in the group of Prof. Dario Alfè, where I am officially employed as a research fellow. 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 with the help of various students and my postdoc Martin Korth. This year, undergraduates Nick Russell and Fergus Noble are also doing short projects with us. We usually work in direct collaboration with the Richard Needs research group, which currently consists of Neil Drummond, Pablo Lopez Rios, Norbert Nemec, Robert Lee, Gareth Griffiths, Priyanka Seth, Alston Misquitta and Duck Young Kim.
In my capacity as College Lecturer I teach undergraduates for Emmanuel College. This year I am doing small group supervisions in "Thermodynamics", "Oscillations, Waves and Optics", and "Quantum Physics". For Lent term 2009, I also gave a graduate lecture course entitled "Pilot waves, Bohmian metaphysics, and the foundations of quantum mechanics". I also offer Part II literature reviews and Part III student projects on topics in quantum foundations.
I own a 16th 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 the quantum Monte Carlo method at this venue, and there are usually a few other events taking place throughout the year (email me if you want to use the place for your own event).
I also 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 - oh yes..
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.
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 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).
My first Ph.D. student Andrea Ma (Silver Medallist in the IOP's "Very Early Career Young Woman Physicist of the Year" 2007 !) is now working for a bank earning fifty times my salary, and good for her.
Some activities I used to do in TCM:
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