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Christopher Isham

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Christopher Isham
Born28 April 1944 (1944-04-28) (age 80)
Alma materImperial College London (PhD, 1969)
Known forResearch in Quantum gravity
AwardsIOP Dirac Medal (2011)
Scientific career
FieldsQuantum gravity
Quantum theory foundations
InstitutionsImperial College London
Doctoral advisorPaul Taunton Matthews[1]
Other academic advisorsAbdus Salam[2]

Christopher Isham (/ˈʃəm/; born 28 April 1944),[3] usually cited as Chris J. Isham, is a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London.


Isham's main research interests are quantum gravity and foundational studies in quantum theory. He was the inventor of an approach to temporal quantum logic called the HPO formalism, and has worked on loop quantum gravity and quantum geometrodynamics. Together with other physicists, such as John C. Baez, Isham is known as a proponent of the utility of category theory in theoretical physics. In recent years, since at least 1997, he has been working on a new approach to quantum theory based on topos theory.

Isham has appeared in several NOVA television programmes as well as a film about Stephen Hawking. Physicist Paul Davies has described Isham as "Britain's greatest quantum gravity expert."[4] As a practising Christian, Isham has also written about the relationships among philosophy, theology, and physics.



  • Isham, C. J., Physics, Philosophy, and Theology, 1988
  • Christopher Isham, "Quantum Theories of the Creation of the Universe," in R. Russell, N. Murphy and C. J. Isham (eds.), Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature (Vatican City: Vatican Press, 1993), p. 74.
  • Christopher Isham, "Creation of the Universe as a Quantum Tunnelling Process," in (eds. R. J. Russell et al.), Physics, Philosophy and Theology (Vatican City: Vatican Press, 1988), pp. 375–408.
  • Isham, C. J. (1993), "Canonical Quantum Gravity and the Problem of Time", in L. A. Ibort and M. A. Rodríguez (eds.), Integrable Systems, Quantum Groups, and Quantum Field theories. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 157-288.
  • Isham, C. J., K. V. Kuchař, "Representations Of Space-Time Diffeomorphisms. 2. Canonical Geometrodynamics," Annals of Physics 164:316 (1985).
  • Isham, C. J. (1994), Prima facie questions in quantum gravity, in Ehlers and Friedrich 25 (1994), 1-21.
  • Isham, C. J. (1997), “Structural Issues in Quantum Gravity”, in M. Francaviglia et al. (eds.), Florence 1995, General Relativity and Gravitation, World Scientific.
  • Butterfield, Jeremy, and Chris Isham (1999), “On the Emergence of Time in Quantum Gravity”, in Butterfield (1999), 111-168.
  • Butterfield, Jeremy, and Christopher Isham (2001), “Spacetime and the Philosophical Challenge of Quantum Gravity”, in Craig Callender and Nick Huggett (eds.) (2001), 33-89.
  • Döring, Andreas and Isham, Chris, "What is a Thing?: Topos Theory in the Foundations of Physics", in Bob Coecke, New Structures in Physics, Chapter 13, pp. 753–940, Lecture Notes in Physics, 813, Springer, 2011, ISBN 978-3-642-12820-2, (also see arXiv:0803.0417v1)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christopher John Isham at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ Gordon Fraser, Cosmic Anger: Abdus Salam — The First Muslim Nobel Scientist, OUP, 2008, p. 119.
  3. ^ Who's who of British Scientists, Vol. 8, Simon Books, 1981
  4. ^ Victorino, Terrence James (16 October 2011). Christopher Isham. Log Press. ISBN 9786137444726.
  5. ^ 2011 Dirac Medal of the Institute of Physics on the IOP website