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Annual Higgs Lecture

Every year, the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences invites an eminent speaker from across the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry and informatics to deliver our flagship lecture, the Annual Higgs Lecture.

Named after alumnus and featuring as its inaugural speaker, Professor Peter Higgs, the lecture attracts staff, students and peers from across the science world and higher education sector, and focuses on a different field of science and mathematics each year. The lecture is incredibly popular, offering attendees with the opportunity to hear about a topic in a current area of interest, from world-renowned leaders in their field. 


2019 Lecture

This year Professor Sir Michael Berry from the University of Bristol delivered the Higgs Lecture on ‘Chasing the dragon: tidal bores in the UK and elsewhere’ on 21 January.

In some of the world’s rivers, an incoming high tide can arrive as a smooth jump decorated by undulations, or as a breaking wave. The river reverses direction and flows upstream. Understanding tidal bores involves 
• analogies with tsunamis, rainbows, horizons in relativity, and ideas from quantum physics; 
• the concept of a ‘minimal model’ in mathematical explanation; 
• different ways in which different cultures describe the same thing; 
• the first unification in fundamental physics

Sir Michael Berry is a theoretical physicist at the University of Bristol, where he has been for nearly twice as long as he has not. His research centres on the relations between physical theories at different levels of description (classical and quantum physics, ray optics and wave optics), and associated mathematics, especially geometry. He delights in finding familiar phenomena illustrating deep concepts: the arcane in the mundane.

Read the news story

The lecture will be available to view here in due course. 




The 2018 lecture was given by Professor Stephen Roberts who is the Royal Academy of Engineering / Man Group Professor of Machine Learning at the University of Oxford.

Professor Roberts delivered a lecture on 'The Age of Intelligent Algorithms: 21st Century Industry, Commerce & Science'. 

Abstract: We live in an era dominated by data and algorithms. The rapid rise of artificial intelligence is as impressive as it is frightening. From playing games against us to making decisions about us and displacing us in the job market, we cannot escape the impact AI is having on our everyday lives. As well as the social impact of algorithms, AI is leading a quiet revolution in science and industry, helping make commercial processes more efficient and enable us to learn more about the world around us. This talk looks at some of the good and the bad of this revolution, with a focus on the practical transformations intelligent algorithms are having in science and industry.

You can view the talk on our YouTube channel or read about the event on our news pages


Professor Sheila Rowan

The lecture entitled 'Gravitational waves: prospects for a new astronomy' was delivered by Professor Sheila Rowan, from the Institute of Gravitational Research, University of Glasgow. In September 2015 the twin ‘Advanced LIGO’ observatories allowed the first direct detection of gravitational waves from astrophysical sources. The waves detected originated from the collision and merger of two black holes 1.3 billion light years from earth. This detection marked the start of new field of gravitational astrophysics, in the 100th anniversary year of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The talk discussed the first and second detections, the status of observations since then, plans for the global network of advanced gravitational wave detectors and what the future of the field might look like.

You can view the talk on our YouTube channel


Professor James Bowie

The Annual King's College London Higgs Lecture was delivered by Professor James Bowie of UCLA.

You can view the talk on our YouTube channel.


Professor Caroline Series

Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick, Professor Series has served the mathematical community on many committees both nationally and internationally. In 2014, she was awarded the first Senior Anne Bennett prize of the London Mathematical Society and she is also vice-chair elect of the newly formed International Committee for Women in Mathematics.

Professor Series discussed Thurston and beyond: Hyperbolic geometry in dimension three, and the role William Thurston's discovery of the central role played by hyperbolic geometry. Both her full lecture and the highlights video can be viewed below.

Watch the video on our YouTube channel.

View the slides for the 2015 Higgs Lecture.


Sir John O'Reilly FREng

Director General, Business & Innovation delivered the Annual Higgs Lecture in December 2013, entitled  Information, Knowledge and Wisdom: T. S. Elliot,  Science and Technology, and Industrial Strategy. Throughout his lecture, Sir John   drew on illustrative examples from across science, engineering and technology and addressed the nature and the place of research in a modern knowledge economy and the vital importance of strong engagement of industry, academia and government within and across the knowledge triangle. Sir John O'Reilly was awarded his knighthood for contributions to science in 2007.

Watch the video on our YouTube channel or read about the event on our news pages.


Professor Peter Higgs FRS

Lending his name to our Annual Lecture, Professor Peter Higgs graduated from King's in 1954 with a PhD in Physics.  In 1964 Higgs, together with other theoretical physicists, discovered a way to give masses to elementary particles. This is now the basis for the standard model that successfully describes all the visible matter in the Universe. This theory required the existence of a new kind of particle, commonly called the Higgs boson, which was discovered by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN in 2012, providing dramatic experimental confirmation of Higgs' theoretical ideas. Higgs has received many honours and awards in recognition of his achievements. In 2013, Professor Peter Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. 

Professor Higgs' lecture in 2012 was entitled Putting Maxwell in his place. You can view the full lecture and the highlights video on our YouTube channel.

You can read more about the event on our news page.


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