Professor Jim Al-Khalili CBE

Professor Jim Al-Khalili CBE was made a patron of Humanists UK for his contribution to the greater public understanding of science.

Scientist, author, broadcaster, and Vice President of Humanists UK

Photo of Professor Jim Al-Khalili CBE

'The most wondrous and surprising thing about our world is that it is rational and explicable. Appealing to the supernatural adds nothing to our understanding of our place in the Universe.'

Jim Al-Khalili CBE FRS is an Iraqi born British theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster. He holds a distinguished chair in physics at the University of Surrey as well as a university chair in the public engagement in science. He currently leads an international research collaboration investigating the origin of the arrow of time in quantum mechanics. 

Jim has presented The Life Scientific on Radio 4 on Tuesday mornings for the past ten years, in which he interviews prominent scientists about their life and work. He has also presented a number of science documentaries on television, particularly on BBC4 where he says he is happiest as he can really get his teeth into a subject. His work includes Atom (2007), Chemistry A Volatile History (2010), which was nominated for a Bafta, Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity (2011), Gravity and Me: The Force the Shapes Our Lives (2017) and The Joy of AI (2018).

Jim has written 14 popular science and history of science books (as well as his first novel) that have between them been translated so far into twenty-six languages. They include Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science (shortlisted for the Warwick Prize) and The World According to Physics (shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Prize). He is a fellow of the Royal Society, a trustee and commissioner of the 1851 Royal Commission, and a past president of the British Science Association. He is a recipient of the Royal Society Michael Faraday medal and the Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal, the Institute of Physics Kelvin Medal, and the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication. In 2008, he received an OBE and a CBE in 2020, both for his work in the public engagement in science. He lives in Southsea, Hampshire, with his wife, Julie, and for reasons lost in the mists of time, he is a die-hard follower of Leeds United.

Jim was President of Humanists UK between January 2013 and January 2016. In an interview in New Humanist in March 2013 he said: “The reason why we strive for a better world and to be good is not because some old scripture or mythology tells me that I’ll be rewarded if I’m good and punished if I’m bad. But because being good defines me as a human. Anyone who wants to be good because they think they should be, not because their religion tells them to be, for me is a humanist.”

He appeared on the Humanists UK podcast What I Believe in 2021.

See also
His own website