B.Sc. (Special Physics) (1953); followed by Ph.D in cosmic ray physics
(1956), both at University College London (UCL).
- OBE for contributions to physics, the Open University, and the
popularisation of science (1998);
- Templeton Project Trust Award for significant contributions to the
field of spiritual values; in particular for contributions to greater
understanding of science and religion (1986).
- The Bragg Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics for distinguished
contributions to the teaching of physics (1999).
- Fellow of University College London (awarded to those who have achieved
distinction in the arts, literature, science or public life)
Main Positions held
- 1960-69 Lecturer, UCL
- 1969-71 Reader, Open University.
- 1971-97 Professor of Physics, Open University.
- 1971-92 Head of the Physics Department, Open University
- 1974-76 Pro-Vice Chancellor, Open University
- 1987-88 Visiting Fellow, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, USA.
- 1987-91 Vice President of the Institute of Physics.
- 1966-present Lay Reader in the Church of England.
- 1993-99 Trustee of the John Templeton Foundation.
- 1999-present Emeritus Professor of Physics, Open University.
Married to Maggi Stannard; four children and three step children; twelve
I was one of the first academics to join the Open University when it was set
up in 1969. I retired from the university in October 1997, but have since been
reappointed as Emeritus Professor.
For most of my life I have carried out research in the field of high energy
nuclear physics. This is the study of the ultimate structure of matter and the
properties of space and time. This involved working with the atom-smashing
machines in Berkeley, California, and Geneva, Switzerland.
I am now concentrating on lecturing, writing and broadcasting. These concern
two fields of interest:
Science and religion
I have written a number of books on the subject (Science and the Renewal
of Belief, Grounds for Reasonable Belief, Doing Away With God?,
Science and Wonders, and contributed chapters to Evidence of Purpose,
How Large is God?, and Spiritual Evolution).
Doing Away With God? was shortlisted for the Collins Biennial
Religious Book of the Year.
I gave the 1987 and 1988 Gifford Lectures at Aberdeen University and this
led to the book, The God Experiment, published by Faber in October
1999, and by HiddenSpring in the USA.
In 1999 I led a team of 50 scientists drawn from eight countries, writing
newspaper articles aimed at reviewing how we are to see religious belief in
the light of modern science at the dawn of the new millennium. It gave rise to
a book, God for the 21st Century, published by the John Templeton
Foundation Press and by SPCK in Spring 2000.
In 1996, I devised and presented Science and Wonders, a series of five
45-minute programmes for BBC Radio 4, based on conversations I had with 40
scientists, philosophers, psychologists and theologians. It was voted the
Number 1 Radio Achievement of the year by The Sunday Times.
In 1994, with financial backing from the John Templeton Foundation, I
devised and wrote a series of four 20-minute videos, The Question Is...
dealing with the relationships between science and religion for young people.
These were produced by a BBC team. To date, 40% of all UK secondary schools
have bought it for use in Religious Education lessons.
Over the past 4 years I have delivered 50 broadcasts in the Thought for the
Day series on BBC Radio 4.
Recent other broadcast appearances have included Newsnight with Jeremy
Paxman (9 Dec 99) on the subject of religion, Moral Maze (18 Dec 99) on
evolution and morality, In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg (23 Dec 99) on prayer,
and Heart of the Matter with Joan Bakewell (7 Mar 00).
I give many talks and lectures on science and religion. In 1996, at the
request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, I and the Archbishop of York
conducted an all-day seminar on science and religion for all 100 bishops of
the Church of England. The most notable talks delivered in the last 18 months
were a Friday Evening Discourse at The Royal Institution and a Public Lecture
at The Royal Society, both on the topic of God and cosmology.
Books for children
Since 1989 I have written 11 books for children, mostly about science.
These have included the Uncle Albert trilogy (The Time and Space of Uncle
Albert, Black Holes and Uncle Albert, and Uncle Albert and the
Quantum Quest) which covers the work of Einstein - the special and general
theories of relativity, together with quantum theory - in a way that is
accessible to children of 10+. The last book in the series was for a time the
Number 1 childrens best-seller in the UK, and got to Number 5 in the
overall (adults) paperback bestseller list.
The books have been translated into 18 languages, shortlisted for the
Science Book Prize (4 times), the Whitbread Childrens Novel of the Year,
the American Science Writing Award, and nominated for the Carnegie Medal and
the Kate Greenaway Medal.
The Curious History of God in which I trace out how the conception
of God developed over Biblical times - and is still developing today, came
within three votes of being selected Childrens Book of the Year by the
Christian Booksellers Convention.
Press reviews over the last year have included comments such as:
Wonderfully lucid child-friendly answers Sunday Telegraph.
Enough to make a parent weep with gratitude The Guardian
The best has just got better... Russell Stannard is the very best writer
of science books for children The Independent
In addition to writing books for children, I give many talks at schools and
literary festivals, such as those at Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Guildford,
Hay-on-Wye, etc. On four occasions I have delivered multi-media, pyrotechnic
presentations on astronomy, cosmology and relativity to audiences of 800 8-13
year old school children each time at Imperial College London and at Glasgow
University. These events have been sponsored by the Institute of Physics, the
British Association for the Advancement of Science, and the governments
Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.
I am a sculptor. Until recently I had two large sculptures on display in one
of the main quadrangles at the Open Unversity. In 1998, the BBC produced a TV
profile devoted to my work in sculpture which they have subsequently screeened
on BBC 2 eight times to date.
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