Richmond Ramblers

We walk in London and the South East.

Tom Kibble a tribute

With sadness we report that our Chairman, Tom Kibble, died in June. Tom was an excellent leader of very interesting and varied walks in the fields of Surrey. He planned these meticulously and looked after his walkers with care. He was deservedly elected Chairman in 2013.

At that time very few of our members knew that Tom was also a leader in the fields of quantum physics and one of the world’s top theoretical physicists. Then, in 2014, he was awarded a knighthood in 2014 in recognition of his outstanding work on the so-called Higgs mechanism and also his highly influential contribution to unified field theory. This added greatly to our understanding of the fundamental forces of nature that govern the Universe. Both pieces of work helped to form the basis of two Nobel Prizes for Physics.

Tom received many prestigious awards and honours during his long career. He should have shared the Nobel Prize with others but was denied this honour because of the rule that it could not be shared by more than three people. Tom really did not mind – he told us that the whole business of prizes for scientific achievements was outdated. What really pleased him was the development and success of his students at Imperial College London where he was Head of Theoretical Physics.

Tom enjoyed being in the Ramblers where he was relatively anonymous. He would come on our poetry walks and read from the works of Robbie Burns – his favourite poet. That’s my abiding memory of Tom – standing in a glade in the woodland gardens of Bushy Park on a summer evening reciting “A Man’s a Man for a’That” in his soft Edinburgh accent. We seldom discussed any physics!

Tom was a modest man of quiet distinction respected by all who knew him both in the Ramblers and in the wider scientific community. He will be missed.

Vic Lewis
Secretary and Acting Chair
Richmond Ramblers

Monday, January 21, 2019