4 January 1940 |
|Institutions||Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge
Professor emeritus of physics, University of Cambridge
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge
BA, MA (1960, 1964)
|Thesis||Non-linear conduction in superconductors|
|Academic advisors||Brian Pippard|
|Known for||Condensed matter physics, Josephson effect|
|Notable awards||Hughes Medal (1972)
Holweck Prize (1972)
Nobel Prize for Physics (1973)
|Spouse||Carol Anne Olivier (m. 1976; 1 child)|
Brian David Josephson, FRS (born 4 January 1940), is a Welsh theoretical physicist and professor emeritus of physics at the University of Cambridge. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1973 for his prediction of the eponymous Josephson effect.
Josephson has spent his academic career at Cambridge, where he has been a fellow of Trinity College since 1962, and served as professor of physics from 1974 until 2007. He remains director of the Mind–Matter Unification Project of the Theory of Condensed Matter group at the university's Cavendish Laboratory.
Some of Josephson's research, in areas such as parapsychology, homeopathy and cold fusion, has fallen outside the parameters of mainstream science, and as a consequence has attracted criticism from fellow physicists.
Josephson was born in Cardiff, Wales, to Jewish parents, Mimi (née Weisbard, 1911–1998) and Abraham Josephson. He attended Cardiff High School, then Trinity College, Cambridge. He was known at Cambridge as a brilliant student. American physicist Philip Anderson, also a Nobel Prize winner, recalled that having him in a class was "a disconcerting experience for a lecturer, I can assure you, because everything had to be right or he would come up and explain it to me after class."
According to one eminent physicist speaking to Edwin Cartlidge of Physics World, Josephson wrote several papers important enough to assure him a place in the history of physics even without his discovery of the Josephson effect. While still an undergraduate, he published a paper on the Mössbauer effect, pointing out a crucial error made by other researchers. He graduated in 1960 and was elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1962. He became a research student in the university's Mond Laboratory, where he was supervised by Brian Pippard (1920–2008), and obtained his PhD in 1964 for a thesis entitled Non-linear conduction in superconductors.
Josephson moved to the United States in 1964 to take a position as research assistant professor at the University of Illinois. He returned to Cambridge in 1967 as an assistant director of research at the Cavendish Laboratory, where he has been a member of the Theory of Condensed Matter (TCM) Group, a theoretical physics group, for much of his career. He became a reader in physics in 1972 and a full professor in 1974, a position he held until he retired in 2007.
In 1970 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and the same year received a National Science Foundation Senior Foreign Scientist Fellowship from Cornell University. He was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Wales in 1974 and the University of Exeter in 1983, and held visiting professorships at Wayne State University in 1983, the Indian Institute of Science in 1984, and the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1987. He is a former member of the advisory and editorial board of Neuroquantology.
Josephson effect, Nobel Prize
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Josephson is best known for his pioneering theoretical work on superconductivity. He was a 22-year-old PhD student when he carried out the research on quantum tunnelling that later won him the Nobel Prize in Physics. Josephson predicted, writes Cartlidge, "that a superconducting current can tunnel through an insulating junction, even when there is no voltage across it, and that the current will oscillate at a well-defined frequency when a voltage is applied." This became known as the Josephson effect. His calculations were published in Physics Letters in July 1962, and were confirmed by Philip Anderson and John Rowell of Bell Labs in Princeton in their paper, "Probable Observation of the Josephson Superconducting Tunneling Effect," submitted to Physical Review Letters in January 1963.
Physicist Andrew Whitaker writes that the Josephson effect led to "much important physics," including the invention of the Josephson junction. Gabrielle Walker, writing in New Scientist, describes a Josephson junction as acting as "a switch that is turned on and off by a magnetic field ... [or] as a magnetic detector by monitoring the amount of current." These detectors are known as SQUIDs (superconducting quantum interference devices), and are used in geology to make highly sensitive measurements, as well as in medicine and computers. IBM used Josephson's discovery to build a computer switch structure with switching speeds up to 100 times faster than with conventional chips.
Josephson was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his discovery. He shared the $122,000 prize with Japanese physicist Leo Esaki and Norwegian-American physicist Ivar Giaever, who jointly received 1/2 the award for their experimental work on tunneling phenomena in semiconductors and superconductors. Unusually, along with Josephson, neither Esaki nor Giaever held professorships at the time of the award.
Josephson developed an interest in the late 1960s in neuroscience and the mind–body problem. Particularly after reading Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics (1975), he began to explore parapsychology (telepathy, telekinesis and other paranormal themes), the synthesis of science and Eastern mysticism, the relationship between music, language and mind, and in the early 1970s started practising transcendental meditation. He addressed a symposium on transcendental meditation in Cambridge in May 1974 attended by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918–2008), who developed the technique.
Josephson told Science in 2001 that that by 1973 the "golden age of condensed-matter physics had passed," and that winning the Nobel Prize gave him the freedom to work in less orthodox areas. Trinity College's tradition of interest in the paranormal offered him firsthand exposure to the ideas and their proponents. He founded the Mind–Matter Unification Project of the Theory of Condensed Matter group at the Cavendish Laboratory, a theoretical research project that he still directs, and which he describes as an attempt to understand "intelligent processes in nature, associated with brain function or with some other natural process." Guided by the principle nullius in verba ("take nobody's word," the motto of the Royal Society), he is one of the few scientists to argue that parapsychological phenomena may be real.
In 1976 he became involved with a group of physicists in San Francisco who were investigating paranormal claims. They included Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, authors of Mind Reach (1977), who were engaged in parapsychology research at the Stanford Research Institute. He travelled to California to meet them, with his expenses paid by Jack Sarfatti's Physics-Consciousness Research Group, and gave a talk to Sarfatti's Fundamental Fysiks Group, which met informally to discuss the philosophy of quantum mechanics. In 1977 he gave the keynote speech at a conference some of the same people had organized in Reykjavik, Iceland. The following year he helped to organize a symposium on consciousness at Cambridge, and published the proceedings, with neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran, as Consciousness and the Physical World (1980).
Glossary · History
In 1979, along with physicists Evan Harris Walker (1935–2006), Olivier Costa de Beauregard (1911–2007) and Richard D. Mattuck, he complained in a letter to the New York Review of Books about an article by J.A. Wheeler (1911–2008) ridiculing parapsychology, sparking a rebuke from science writer Martin Gardner (1914–2010). He also became interested in the concept of water memory after attending a conference at which French immunologist Jacques Benveniste (1935–2004) first proposed the idea. This is purported to provide an explanation for homeopathy, but is dismissed by mainstream scientists as pseudoscience.
In a paper, "Biological Utilization of Quantum Nonlocality," published in Foundations of Physics in 1991, Josephson and Fotini Pallikara-Viras proposed that explanations for both psychokinesis and telepathy might be found in quantum physics. Josephson argues that quantum mechanics is "not a complete picture of nature even though it is correct in its own domain." He told Physics World in 2002: "Future science will consider quantum mechanics as the phenomenology of particular kinds of organised complex system. Quantum entanglement would be one manifestation of such organisation, paranormal phenomena another."
Views on science, reception
Arguing that the outright rejection of parapsychology is not a matter of science, but of emotion, Josephson has compared the situation of parapsychology to the theory of continental drift, proposed in 1912 by Alfred Wegener (1880–1930) to explain observations that were otherwise inexplicable. There was strong resistance to the idea from the scientific community, until further evidence led to its acceptance after Wegener's death in 1930.
Josephson argues that science-by-consensus can get things wrong, and refers to the rejection of certain unorthodox ideas as "pathological disbelief," the attitude that "even if it were true I wouldn’t believe it." He maintains that "anything goes among the physics community – cosmic wormholes, time travel – just so long as it keeps its distance from anything mystical or New Age-ish." He maintains that this attitude, which he likens to a religious creed, has caused the editors of academic journals to reject important papers on certain topics. In 2012 he wrote a supportive Guardian obituary of Martin Fleischmann (1927–2012), the British chemist who, along with Stanley Pons, pioneered research into cold fusion, and complained to Nature that its obituary failed to give Fleishmann due credit. The scientific community generally regards cold fusion as an example of pathological science.
Matthew Reisz wrote in Times Higher Education in 2010 that Josephson has long been one of physics's "more colourful figures." Several physicists criticized him publicly in 2001 over material he wrote for a Royal Mail booklet, published to accompany stamps for the Nobel Prize's 100th anniversary, in which he said Britain was at the forefront of research into telepathy. He wrote:
Physicists attempt to reduce the complexity of nature to a single unifying theory, of which the most successful and universal, the quantum theory, has been associated with several Nobel prizes, for example those to Dirac and Heisenberg. Max Planck's original attempts a hundred years ago to explain the precise amount of energy radiated by hot bodies began a process of capturing in mathematical form a mysterious, elusive world containing 'spooky interactions at a distance', real enough however to lead to inventions such as the laser and transistor.
Quantum theory is now being fruitfully combined with theories of information and computation. These developments may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood within conventional science such as telepathy, an area where Britain is at the forefront of research.
Physicist David Deutsch responded that the Royal Mail had "let itself be hoodwinked into supporting ideas that are complete nonsense," although another physicist, Robert Matthews, suggested that Deutsch was skating on thin ice given the latter's own work on parallel universes and time travel. Nine years later, in April 2010, Antony Valentini of Imperial College London withdrew Josephson's invitation to a conference on the de Broglie-Bohm theory (along with David Peat and Jack Sarfatti), because of Josephson's work on the paranormal, although it was reinstated after complaints.
- New Scientist, 1969
- Research Corporation, 1969
- Fritz London Memorial Prize, 1970
- Guthrie Medal (Institute of Physics), 1972
- van der Pol, 1972
- Elliott Cresson Medal (Franklin Institute), 1972
- Hughes Medal, 1972
- Holweck Prize (Institute of Physics and French Institute of Physics), 1972
- Nobel Prize for Physics, 1973
- Faraday (Institution of Electrical Engineers), 1982
- Sir George Thomson (Institute of Measurement and Control), 1984
- "Biological Observer-Participation and Wheeler's 'Law without Law'," in Plamen L. Simeonov, Leslie S. Smith and Andrée C. Ehresmann (eds.), Integral Biomathics, Springer, 2012, pp. 244–252.
- "Foreword," in Michael A. Thalbourne and Lance Storm (eds.), Parapsychology in the Twenty-First Century, McFarland, 2005, pp. 1–2.
- "We Think That We Think Clearly, But That's Only Because We Don't Think Clearly," in Patrick Colm Hogan and Lalita Pandit (eds.), Rabindranath Tagore: Universality and Tradition, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003, p. 107ff.
- "String Theory, Universal Mind, and the Paranormal", arXiv, physics.gen-ph, 2 December 2003.
- "Beyond quantum theory: A realist psycho-biological interpretation of reality’ revisited", Biosystems, 64(1–3), January 2002, pp. 43–45.
- "Positive bias to paranormal claims", Physics World, October 2000.
- "What is truth?, Physics World, February 1999.
- "Skeptics cornered", Physics World, September 1997.
- "What is Music a Language For?" in Paavo Pylkkänen, Pauli Pylkkö, and Antti Hautamäki (eds.), Brain, Mind and Physics, IOS Press, 1997, pp. 262–265.
- "Consciously avoiding the X-factor", Physics World, December 1996.
- with Jessica Utts, "The Paranormal: The Evidence and its Implications for Consciousness", Times Higher Education Supplement, 5 April 1996.
- with Tethys Carpenter, "What can Music tell us about the Nature of the Mind? A Platonic Model," in Stuart R. Hameroff, Alfred W. Kaszniak and Alwyn Scott (eds.), Toward a Science of Consciousness, MIT Press, 1996, pp. 691–694.
- with Colm Wall and Anthony Clark, "Light Barrier", New Scientist, 29 April 1995.
- "Awkward Eclipse", New Scientist, 17 December 1994.
- with Beverly A. Rubik, David Fontana and David Lorimer, "Defining consciousness", Nature, 358(618), 20 August 1992.
- with Beverly A. Rubik, "The challenge of consciousness research", Frontier Perspectives, 1992.
- with Fotini Pallikari-Viras, "Biological Utilization of Quantum Nonlocality", Foundations of Physics, 21(2), 1991, pp. 197–207 (also available here).
- "The History of the Discovery of Weakly Coupled Superconductors," in John Roche (ed.), Physicists Look Back: Studies in the History of Physics, CRC Press, 1990, p. 375.
- "Limits to the universality of quantum mechanics", Foundations of Physics, 18(12), December 1988, pp. 1195–1204.
- with M. Conrad and D. Home, "Beyond Quantum Theory: A Realist Psycho-Biological Interpretation of Physical Reality," in Alwyn van der Merwe, Franco Selleri and Gino Tarozzi (eds.), Microphysical Reality and Quantum Formalism, Springer, 1987, p. 285ff.
- with D.E. Broadbent, "Perceptual Experiments and Language Theories", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 295(10772), October 1981, pp. 375–385.
- with H. M. Hauser, "Multistage Acquisition of Intelligent Behaviour", Kybernetes, 10(1), 1981.
- with V. S. Ramachandran (eds.), Consciousness and the Physical World, Pergamon Press, 1980.
- with Richard D. Mattuck, Evan Harris Walker and Olivier Costa de Beauregard, "Parapsychology: An Exchange", New York Review of Books, 27, 26 June 1980, pp. 48–51.
- "Foreword," in Andrija Puharich (ed.), The Iceland Papers: Select Papers on Experimental and Theoretical Research on the Physics of Consciousness, Essentia Research Associates, 1979.
- "A Theoretical Analysis of Higher States of Consciousness and Meditation", Current Topics in Cybernetics and Systems, 1978, pp. 3–4.
- "The Artificial Intelligence/Psychology Approach to the Study of the Brain and Nervous System", Lecture Notes in Biomathematics, 4, 1974, pp 370–375.
- "The Discovery of Tunnelling Supercurrents", Science, Nobel lecture, 12 December 1973, pp. 157–164.
- "Equation of state near the critical point", Journal of Physics C: Solid State Physics, 2(7), July 1969.
- with J. Lekner. "Mobility of an Impurity in a Fermi Liquid", Physical Review Letters. 23(3), 1969, pp. 111–113.
- "Inequality for the specific heat: II. Application to critical phenomena", Proceedings of the Physical Society, 92(2), October 1967.
- "Inequality for the specific heat: I. Derivation", Proceedings of the Physical Society, 92(2), October 1967.
- "Macroscopic Field Equations for Metals in Equilibrium", Physical Review, 152, December 1966, pp. 211–217.
- "Relation between the superfluid density and order parameter for superfluid He near Tc", Physics Letters, 21(6), 1 July 1966, pp. 608–609.
- "Supercurrents through Barriers", Advances in Physics, 14(56), 1965, pp. 419–451.
- Non-linear conduction in superconductors, (PhD thesis), University of Cambridge, December 1964.
- "Coupled Superconductors", Review of Modern Physics, 36(1), 1964, pp. 216–220.
- "The Relativistic Shift in the Mössbauer Effect and Coupled Superconductors", submitted for Trinity College fellowship, 1962.
- "Possible new effects in superconductive tunnelling", Physics Letters, 1(7), 1 July 1962, pp. 251–253.
- "Temperature-dependent shift of gamma rays emitted by a solid", Physical Review Letters, 4, 1 April 1960.
- List of Jewish Nobel laureates
- List of Nobel laureates in Physics
- List of physicists
- Quantum pseudo-telepathy
- Scientific phenomena named after people
- "Non-linear conduction in superconductors", Newton Library Catalogue, University of Cambridge.
- McDonald, Donald G. "The Nobel Laureate Versus the Graduate Student", Physics Today, July 2001 (pp. 46–51), p. 46.
- International Who's Who, 1983-84, Europa Publications Limited, 1983, p. 672.
- Brian Josephson, Homepage, Cavendish Laboratory.
- "Emeritus Faculty Staff List", Department of Physics, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.
- "Brian D. Josephson". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
- Brian Josephson, Homepage, Cavendish Laboratory.
- Anderson, Philip. "How Josephson Discovered His Effect", Physics Today, November 1970.
- Edwin Cartlidge (May 2002). "Pioneer of the Paranormal". Physics World.
- "Cambridge Theory of Condensed Matter group". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
- "Brian D. Josephson", in Stig Lundqvist (ed.), Nobel Lectures, Physics 1971–1980, World Scientific Publishing Co., 1992.
- "Editorial team", NeuroQuantology.
- Rosen, Joe. "Josephson, Brian David," Encyclopedia of Physics, Infobase Publishing, 2009, pp. 165–166.
- James S. Trefil, "Josephson Effect," The Nature of Science, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003, p. 225.
- Brian Josephson, "The History of the Discovery of Weakly Coupled Superconductors," in John Roche (ed.), Physicists Look Back: Studies in the History of Physics, CRC Press, 1990, p. 375.
- B.D. Josephson, "Possible new effects in superconductive tunnelling", Physics Letters, 1(7), 1 July 1962 (received 8 June 1962), pp. 251–253.
- Philip Anderson and John Rowell, "Probable Observation of the Josephson Superconducting Tunneling Effect", Physical Review Letters, 10(6), 15 March 1963 (received 11 January 1963), pp. 230–232.
- Andrew Whitaker, The New Quantum Age: From Bell's Theorem to Quantum Computation and Teleportation, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 273.
- Gabrielle Walker, "Technology: How SQUIDs were found where crystals meet", New Scientist, 1776, 6 July 1991.
- Whitaker 2012, p. 274.
- Anthony J. G. Hey and Patrick Walters, The New Quantum Universe, Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 154–155.
- "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1973". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
- For $122,000, see "From Stockholm, with Love", Science News, 104(17), 27 October 1973 (pp. 260–261), p. 260.
- Marika Griehsel (June 2004). "Interview with Brian D. Josephson". nobelprize.org.
- Alison George, "Lone voices special: Take nobody's word for it", New Scientist, 9 December 2006 (pp. 56–57), p. 56.
- For a general discussion of quantum theory and consciousness studies, see Mari Jibu and Kunio Yasue, Quantum Brain Dynamics and Consciousness: An Introduction, John Benjamins Publishing, 1995, p. 3ff (p. 4 for reference to Josephson).
- For Fritjof Capra, see George (New Scientist) 2006, p. 56.
- For meditation, see Cartlidge (Physics World) 2002.
- That he began practising TM in the 1970s, see Frank Northen Magill, The Nobel Prize Winners: Physics, Volume 3, Salem Press, 1989, p. 1042.
- For music, see Brian Josephson, "What is Music a Language For?" in Paavo Pylkkänen, Pauli Pylkkö, and Antti Hautamäki (eds.), Brain, Mind and Physics, IOS Press, 1997, pp. 262–265.
- "Josephson on transcendental meditation", New Scientist, 16 May 1974.
- Eliot Marshall. "For Winners, a New Life of Opportunity – and Perils", Science, 294(5541), 12 October 2001 (pp. 293, 295), p. 295.
- Brian Josephson, "Foreword," in Michael A. Thalbourne and Lance Storm (eds.), Parapsychology in the Twenty-First Century: Essays on the Future of Psychical research, McFarland, 2005, pp. 1–2.
- For Wegener, also see J.W. Grove, "Rationality at Risk: Science against Pseudoscience", Minerva, 23(2), June 1985 (pp. 216–240), p. 218.
- David Kaiser, How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival, W. W. Norton & Company, pp. 144, 173.
- Brian Josephson and V.S. Ramachandran (eds.), Consciousness and the Physical World, Pergamon Press, 1980.
- Olivier Costa de Beauregard, Richard D. Mattuck, Brian D. Josephson and Evan Harris Walker, "Parapsychology: An Exchange", New York Review of Books, 27, 26 June 1980, pp. 48–51.
- George (New Scientist) 2006, p. 56.
- Brian D. Josephson and Fotini Pallikari-Viras, "Biological Utilization of Quantum Nonlocality", Foundations of Physics, 21(2), 1991, pp. 197–207 (also available here).
- Michael Hanlon (2007). 10 Questions Science Can't Answer (Yet). Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 165–166.
- Brian Josephson (2006). "Can the Physicist's Description of Reality be Considered Complete?". YouTube. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
- Brian Josephson, "Martin Fleischmann obituary", The Guardian, 31 August 2012.
- Brian Josephson, "Fleischmann denied due credit", Nature, 490, 37, 4 October 2012, p. 37.
- Thomas F. Gieryn, Cultural Boundaries of Science: Credibility on the Line, University of Chicago Press, 1999, pp. 184–185.
- Matthew Reisz, "He didn't see that coming, or did he?", Times Higher Education, 19 April 2010.
- "21st-century directions in de Broglie-Bohm theory and beyond", Physics World, July 2010.
- Brian Josephson, "Physics and the Nobel Prizes", Royal Mail, 2001.
- David McKie, "Royal Mail's Nobel guru in telepathy row", The Observer, 30 September 2001.
- Robert Matthews, "Time Travel", The Daily Telegraph, 8 November 2001.
- Brian Josephson's home page, University of Cambridge.
- Anderson, Philip. "How Josephson Discovered His Effect", Physics Today, November 1970. Anderson's account of Josephson's discovery; he taught the graduate course in solid-state/many-body theory in which Josephson was a student.
- Broad, C.D.. "Lectures on Psychical Research", The Humanities Press, 1962.
- Buckel, Werner and Kleiner, Reinhold. Superconductivity: Fundamentals and Applications, VCH, 1991.
- Josephson, Brian. "Quantum Mechanics, thermodynamics and transcendental meditation", courtesy of YouTube, 12 January 1975.
- Josephson, Brian. "Review: Robert Park's Voodoo Science", Times Higher Education Supplement, October 2000.
- "Brian David Josephson". Jewish Virtual Library.
- Stapp, Henry. "Quantum Approaches to Consciousness," in Philip David Zelazo, Morris Moscovitch and Evan Thompson (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness, 2007.
- Stenger, Victor J. The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology, Prometheus Books, 1995.