Ripples in Time and Space, Part 1

The turn of the second millennium was something of a stagnant point for the field of particle physics. The six quark flavours had been discovered, neutrino mass had been measured and most of the particle physics community was focussed on the search for the elusive and, we now know, mythical, Higgs boson, cited as the reason for the existence of mass. Particle physicists, frustrated by their comparatively slow progress, took to building larger and larger accelerators in a quest to find out more about matter.

It was this environment into which James Hawkins was to arrive in 2003 at the age of 22. He was born in Scotland, but his parents moved to England in the early 1980s, and he was educated to degree-level there. His academic results were surprisingly nondescript throughout his undergraduate life. He chose to study physics, as it was then, at university because “ seemed like a good idea at the time” (The Diaries of James Hawkins, entry dated 30 June 2003) rather than because of some flair for the subject. His work was to have major impact in the fields of astronomy, at which he showed little aptitude or interest, and biology, which he failed to study at all.

You can find the complete version of Ripples in Time and Space, Part 1 in issue 56 of TBD.

Joanna McKenzie