Brian Pippard

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Brian Pippard
Brian Pippard
Born(1920-09-07)7 September 1920
Died21 September 2008(2008-09-21) (aged 88)
Cambridge, England
Alma materClare College, Cambridge
AwardsFellow of the Royal Society
Hughes Medal (1960)
Holweck Medal (1961)
Heineman Prize (1969)
Onsager Medal (2005)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge
Notable studentsBrian David Josephson
John Shepherd
John Clarke
1st President of Clare Hall, Cambridge
In office
Succeeded bySir Robert Honeycombe

Sir Alfred Brian Pippard, FRS (7 September 1920 – 21 September 2008),[1] was a British physicist. He was Cavendish Professor of Physics from 1971 until 1982 and an Honorary Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, of which he was the first President.


Pippard was educated at Clifton College[2] and Clare College, Cambridge, where he graduated with MA (Cantab) and PhD degrees.

After working as a scientific officer in radar research during the Second World War, he was appointed as a Demonstrator in Physics at the University of Cambridge in 1946, subsequently becoming a Lecturer in the subject in 1950, a Reader in 1959, and the first John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Physics a year later. In 1971 he was elected Cavendish Professor of Physics.[3]

Pippard demonstrated the reality, as opposed to the mere abstract concept, of Fermi surfaces in metals by establishing the shape of the Fermi surface of copper through measuring the reflection and absorption of microwave electromagnetic radiation[4] (see the anomalous skin effect[5]). He also introduced the notion of coherence length in superconductors in his proposal for the non-local generalisation of the London equations[6][7] concerning electrodynamics in superfluids and superconductors. The non-local kernel proposed by Pippard,[8][9][10] inferred on the basis of Chambers' non-local generalisation of Ohm's law) can be deduced within the framework of the BCS (Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer) theory of superconductivity[11] (a comprehensive description of the details of the London–Pippard theory can be found in the book by Fetter and Walecka[12]).

Pippard was the author of Elements of Classical Thermodynamics for Advanced Students of Physics,[13] Dynamics of Conduction Electrons,[14] and The Physics of Vibration.[15] He also co-authored the three-volumes encyclopaedia Twentieth Century Physics.[16]

As the Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, he compiled Cavendish Problems in Classical Physics,[17] based in large part on past examination questions for Cambridge physics students.

Pippard was the doctoral supervisor of Brian David Josephson (awarded PhD in Physics in 1964) who in 1973 received the Nobel Prize in Physics (together with Leo Esaki and Ivar Giaever) for his discovery of what is known as the Josephson effect.[18]


  1. ^ Longair, M. S.; Waldram, J. R. (2009). "Sir Alfred Brian Pippard. 7 September 1920 -- 21 September 2008". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 55: 201–220. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2009.0014.
  2. ^ "Clifton College Register" Muirhead, J.A.O. p464: Bristol; J.W Arrowsmith for Old Cliftonian Society; April, 1948
  3. ^ "PIPPARD, Prof. Sir (Alfred) Brian". Who's Who & Who Was Who. Vol. 2019 (online ed.). A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Pippard, A. B. (1957). "An Experimental Determination of the Fermi Surface in Copper". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 250 (979): 325–357. Bibcode:1957RSPTA.250..325P. doi:10.1098/rsta.1957.0023. S2CID 120993464.
  5. ^ N. W. Ashcroft, and N. D. Mermin, Solid State Physics (Thompson Learning, Inc., London, 1976), Chapter 14, Measuring the Fermi Surface, p. 277, Anomalous Skin Effect; ISBN 0-03-083993-9. See Classical skin depth.
  6. ^ Zhou, Shu-Ang (1991). Electrodynamic Theory of Superconductors. London: Peter Peregrinus Ltd. ISBN 0-86341-257-2.
  7. ^ F. London, Superfluids, Vol. I: Macroscopic Theory of Superconductivity (Dover Publications, New York, 1961), p. 152.
  8. ^ Waldram, J. R.; Pippard, A. B.; Clarke, J. (1970). "Theory of the Current-Voltage Characteristics of SNS Junctions and other Superconducting Weak Links". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 268 (1188): 265–287. Bibcode:1970RSPTA.268..265W. doi:10.1098/rsta.1970.0075. S2CID 122559890.
  9. ^ Pippard, A. B. (1964). "Quantization of Coupled Orbits in Metals II. The Two-Dimensional Network, with Special Reference to the Properties of Zinc". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 256 (1072): 317–355. Bibcode:1964RSPTA.256..317P. doi:10.1098/rsta.1964.0008. S2CID 122241308.
  10. ^ Pippard, A. B. (1955). "Trapped Flux in Superconductors". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 248 (941): 97–129. Bibcode:1955RSPTA.248...97P. doi:10.1098/rsta.1955.0011. S2CID 119893482.
  11. ^ Bardeen, J.; Cooper, L. N.; Schrieffer, J. R. (1 December 1957). "Theory of Superconductivity". Physical Review. American Physical Society (APS). 108 (5): 1175–1204. Bibcode:1957PhRv..108.1175B. doi:10.1103/physrev.108.1175. ISSN 0031-899X.
  12. ^ A.L. Fetter, and J. D. Walecka, Quantum Theory of Many-Particle Systems (Dover Publications, New York, 2003), Chapter 13, Superconductivity, Section 49, London-Pippard Phenomenological Theory; ISBN 0-486-42827-3
  13. ^ A. B. Pippard, Elements of Classical Thermodynamics for Advanced Students of Physics (Cambridge University Press, 1957); ISBN 0-521-09101-2.
  14. ^ A. B. Pippard, Dynamics of Conduction Electrons, Documents on Modern Physics (Gordon & Beach, 1965).
  15. ^ A. B. Pippard, The Physics of Vibration (Cambridge University Press, 2007); ISBN 0-521-03333-0
  16. ^ Laurie M. Brown, Abraham Pais, and Brian Pippard, Twentieth Century Physics (Institute of Physics Publishing, 1995): Vol. I; ISBN 0-7503-0353-0, Vol. II; ISBN 0-7503-0354-9; Vol. III; ISBN 0-7503-0355-7
  17. ^ A.B. Pippard, Cavendish Problems in Classical Physics (Pamphlet) (Cambridge University Press, 1962).
    A.B. Pippard, Cavendish Problems in Classical Physics (Pamphlet), 64 p. (Cambridge University Press, 1971)
  18. ^ Josephson, B.D. (1962). "Possible new effects in superconductive tunnelling". Physics Letters. Elsevier BV. 1 (7): 251–253. Bibcode:1962PhL.....1..251J. doi:10.1016/0031-9163(62)91369-0. ISSN 0031-9163.


  • Anthony Tucker, Sir Brian Pippard, The Guardian, Wednesday, 25 September 2008, [1].
  • John Waldram, Professor Sir Brian Pippard (1920–2008), News and Events, University Offices, University of Cambridge, 24 September 2008, [2].
  • Professor Sir Brian Pippard (1920–2008), Cambridge Network, 25 September 2008, [3] (Reproduced from University of Cambridge Office of Communications).
  • John Waldram, Brian Pippard (1920–2008): Low-temperature physicist who excelled in subtle intuitive concepts, Nature 455, 1191 (30 October 2008), [4].
  • Professor Sir Brian Pippard, Telegraph, 23 September 2008, [5].
  • Professor Sir Brian Pippard: Cambridge physicist, The Times, 25 September 2008, [6].
  • Richard Eden, Professor Sir Brian Pippard: Physicist who proved the existence of the Fermi surface and was the first President of Clare Hall, Cambridge, The Independent, Tuesday, 7 October 2008, [7].
  • Hamish Johnston, Sir Brian Pippard: 1920–2008, PhysicsWorld, 24 September 2008, [8].

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Academic offices
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New Title
President of Clare Hall, Cambridge
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