Colin Humphreys

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Colin Humphreys

Colin Humphreys in Cambridge, 2015
Colin John Humphreys

(1941-05-24) 24 May 1941 (age 82)[4]
EducationLuton Grammar School[4]
Alma materImperial College London (BSc)[5] University of Oxford (MA)
University of Cambridge (PhD)
AwardsA. A. Griffith Medal and Prize (2001)[1] Queen’s Medal (2022) [1]
Scientific career
FieldsMaterials science
Gallium Nitride
Electron microscopy
Science and religion[2]
InstitutionsQueen Mary University of London
University of Cambridge
Royal Institution [2]
ThesisAspects of multiple beam electron diffraction and X-ray diffraction topography (1969)
Doctoral studentsAmanda Petford-Long[3]

Sir Colin John Humphreys, CBE FRS FREng FIMMM FInstP[1][6] (born 24 May 1941) is a British physicist.[2] He is the Professor of Materials Science at Queen Mary University of London.

He is the former Goldsmiths' Professor of Materials Science at the University of Cambridge and the Professor of Experimental Physics at the Royal Institution in London. He served as President of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in 2002 and 2003. His research interests include "all aspects of electron microscopy and analysis, semiconductors (particularly gallium nitride), ultra-high temperature aerospace materials and superconductors."[5] Humphreys also "studies the Bible when not pursuing his day-job as a materials scientist."[7]


Humphreys was educated at Luton Grammar School,[4] Imperial College London (BSc) and Churchill College, Cambridge[4] where he was awarded a PhD in 1969.[8] He was awarded a Master of Arts degree from Jesus College, Oxford.[4][clarification needed]

Career and research[edit]


Humphreys is a materials scientist who has carried out valuable work on the electron microscopy of semiconducting materials. His world-leading research on gallium nitride (GaN) has resulted in a substantially improved understanding of this important material with a wide range of technological applications.[1]

In addition to its potential use within transistors as a next-generation alternative to silicon, GaN emits a brilliant light that makes it an ideal candidate for use in energy-saving LEDs.[1] Colin has pioneered the development of low-cost, high-efficiency GaN-on-silicon (or ‘GaN-on-Si’) LEDs, which are now being manufactured based on his patented research.[1] GaN LED lighting could save the United Kingdom £2 billion per year in electricity costs.[1]

Humphreys is a member of the John Templeton Foundation.[5] and a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering.[9]

Biblical studies[edit]

Date of Last Supper[edit]

In 2011 Humphreys claimed in his book The Mystery of the Last Supper that the Last Supper took place on Wednesday (Holy Wednesday), not as traditionally thought Thursday (Maundy Thursday), and that the apparent timing discrepancies (Nisan 15 or 14) between the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke versus John are rooted in the use of different calendars by the writers. Mark, Matthew and Luke appear to use an older, Egyptian-style Jewish calendar (still used today by the Samaritans) while John appears to refer to the newer, Babylonian-style Jewish calendar (still in use by modern Jews).[10] The Last Supper being on Wednesday would allow more time for interrogation and presentation to Pilate prior to the crucifixion on Friday than given in the traditional view. Humphreys proposed the actual date for the Last Supper to be 1 April 33.[11]


In a review of Humphreys' book, theologian William R Telford points out that the non-astronomical parts of his argument are based on the assumption that the chronologies described in the New Testament are historical and based on eyewitness testimony, accepting statements such as the "three different Passovers in John" and Matthew's statement that Jesus died at the ninth hour. In doing so, Telford says, Humphreys has built an argument upon unsound premises which "does violence to the nature of the biblical texts, whose mixture of fact and fiction, tradition and redaction, history and myth all make the rigid application of the scientific tool of astronomy to their putative data a misconstrued enterprise."[12]

Eclipse made "sun stand still"[edit]

In a 2017 paper written together with Graeme Waddington, Humphreys offered an astronomical explanation for the biblical story of the sun standing still over Gibeon during the Israelites' victorious battle against the Amorites (Joshua 10:12), namely an annular eclipse which occurred on 30 October 1207 BCE.[13][non-primary source needed]

Awards and honours[edit]

Humphreys was elected in 1996 as a Fellow[6] of the Royal Academy of Engineering[6] He won the Institute of Physics Kelvin Medal and Prize in 2000. Humphreys was awarded the A. A. Griffith Medal and Prize in 2001 and a CBE in 2003 for services to science as a researcher and communicator.[14] He was knighted in the 2010 Birthday Honours[15] and in 2011 elected a Fellow of the Royal Society[16] In 2015 he was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society.[17][18] He is also mentioned in Debrett's People of Today.[19][when?]


  • The Miracles of Exodus: a Scientist Reveals the Extraordinary Natural Causes Underlying the Biblical Miracles (Harper Collins, 2003).
  • "The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus." (Cambridge University Press, 2011) ISBN 0-521-73200-X


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Anon (2011). "Sir Colin Humphreys CBE FREng FRS". London: Royal Society. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies at the Wayback Machine (archived 2016-11-11)

  2. ^ a b c Colin Humphreys publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ Petford-Long, Amanda (1984). Structural studies of various β-aluminas. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 882116406. EThOS icon of an open green padlock
  4. ^ a b c d e Anon (2017). "Humphreys, Prof. Colin John". Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). Oxford: A & C Black. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U21179. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ a b c University of Cambridge, Colin Humphreys Archived 10 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c "List of Fellows".
  7. ^ "The Penultimate Supper?". Cambridge University. 17 April 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011. The new study is based on earlier research which Professor Humphreys carried out with the Oxford astrophysicist, Graeme Waddington, in 1983. This identified the date of Jesus' crucifixion as the morning of Friday, April 3rd, AD 33 – which has since been widely accepted by other scholars as well. For Professor Humphreys, who only studies the Bible when not pursuing his day-job as a materials scientist, this presented an opportunity to deal with the equally difficult issue of when (and how) Jesus' Last Supper really took place.
  8. ^ Humphreys, Colin John (1969). Aspects of multiple beam electron diffraction and X-ray diffraction topography. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 885437201. EThOS
  9. ^ "Advisory Council of the Campaign for Science and Engineering". Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  10. ^ Humphreys, Colin J. The Mystery of the Last Supper : Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011, p193.
  11. ^ Humphreys, Colin J. The Mystery of the Last Supper : Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011, p164.
  12. ^ Telford, William R. (2015). "Review of The Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus". The Journal of Theological Studies. 66 (1): 371–376. doi:10.1093/jts/flv005.
  13. ^ Humphreys, Colin; Waddington, Graeme (1 October 2017). "Solar eclipse of 1207 BC helps to date pharaohs". Astronomy & Geophysics. 58 (5): 5.39–5.42. doi:10.1093/astrogeo/atx178. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  14. ^ "New year honours". Times Higher Education. 3 January 2003. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  15. ^ "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 1.
  16. ^ "Sir Colin John Humphreys CBE FREng FRS". Royal Society. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  17. ^ "Honourary Fellows". Royal Microscopical Society. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Honorary Fellows Past and Present". Royal Microscopical Society. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  19. ^ Sir Colin Humphreys on Debrett's People of Today