Close was a pupil at King's School, Peterborough (then a grammar school), where he was taught Latin by John Dexter, brother of author Colin Dexter. He took a BSc in Physics at St Andrews University graduating in 1967, before researching for a DPhil in Theoretical Physics at Magdalen College, Oxford, under the supervision of Richard Dalitz, which he was awarded in 1970.
In addition to his scientific research, he is known for his lectures and writings making science intelligible to a wider audience and promoting physics outreach.
From Oxford he went to Stanford University in California for two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow on the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. In 1973 he went to the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire and then to CERN in Switzerland from 1973–5. He joined the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire in 1975 as a research physicist and was latterly Head of Theoretical Physics Division from 1991. He headed the communication and public education activities at CERN from 1997 to 2000. From 2001, he was Professor of Theoretical Physics at Oxford. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Birmingham from 1996–2002.
Honours and awards
- He became a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 1991.
- The Institute of Physics awarded him its 1996 Kelvin Medal and Prize, which is given "for outstanding contributions to the public understanding of physics".
- From 1993–9, he was Vice-President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
- He was appointed an OBE in 2000.
- Since 2003, he has been Chairman of the British team (BPhO) in the International Physics Olympiad, based at the University of Leicester.
- 2013 Awarded the Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize 
His Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1993, entitled The Cosmic Onion, gave their name to one of his books. He was a Member on the Council of the Royal Institution from 1997–9. From 2000 to 2003 he gave public lectures as Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London.
In his book, Lucifer's Legacy: The Meaning of Asymmetry ISBN 9780198503804, Close wrote: "Fundamental physical science involves observing how the universe functions and trying to find regularities that can be encoded into laws. To test if these are right, we do experiments. We hope that the experiments won't always work out, because it is when our ideas fail that we extend our experience. The art of research is to ask the right questions and discover where your understanding breaks down." 
His 2010 book Neutrino ISBN 9780199574599 discusses a tiny, difficult-to-detect particle emitted from radioactive transitions and generated by stars. Also discussed are the contributions John Bahcall, Ray Davis, Bruno Pontecorvo, and others who made a scientific understanding of this fundamental building block of the universe.
- Close, F. E. (1979). An Introduction to Quarks and Partons. London: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-175150-3.
- Close, Frank (1983). The Cosmic Onion: Quarks and the Nature of the Universe. London: Heinemann Educational. ISBN 0-435-69170-8.
- Close, Frank; Michael Marten; Christine Sutton (1987). The Particle Explosion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-851965-6.
- Close, Frank (1988). End: Cosmic Catastrophe and the Fate of the Universe. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-65461-6. (Published in the US as Apocalypse When?)
- Close, Frank (1990). Too Hot to Handle: The Story of the Race for Cold Fusion. London: W. H. Allen. ISBN 1-85227-206-6.
- Close, Frank (2000). Lucifer's Legacy: The Meaning of Asymmetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850380-6.
- Close, Frank (2004). Particle Physics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280434-0.
- Close, Frank (2007). The Void. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-922590-7.
- Close, Frank (2009). Antimatter. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-955016-6.
- Close, Frank (2009). Nothing: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-922586-6.
- Close, Frank (2010). Neutrino. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-957459-6.
- Close, Frank (2011). The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-959350-7.
- Who's Who
- "Subject Awards. Recipients of the Kelvin Medal and Prize". Institute of Physics. (main page of award)
- "Officers of the BPhO. BPhO committee for the year 2003.". University of Leicester.
- "The Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize". The Royal Society. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- Frank Close at st-andrews.ac.uk
- Frank Close at Exeter College
- Interview in The Guardian, 1 June 2004
- Radio 4 Museum of Curiosity 5 March 2008
- Frank Close's page, Conville and Walsh literary agents
- Works by Frank Close at Open Library