Brian David Josephson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1973

How are you related to Brian David Josephson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1973?

Connect to the World Family Tree to find out

Brian David Josephson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1973's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Brian David Josephson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1973

Birthplace: Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Abraham Josephson and Minnie Weisbard
Husband of Private
Father of Private

Managed by: Yigal Burstein
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Brian David Josephson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1973

Brian David Josephson, FRS (born 4 January 1940), is a Welsh theoretical physicist and professor emeritus of physics at the University of Cambridge. Best known for his pioneering work on superconductivity and quantum tunnelling, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973 for his prediction of the eponymous Josephson effect, made in 1962 when he was a 22-year-old PhD student at Cambridge. He shared the prize with physicists Leo Esaki and Ivar Giaever, who jointly received half the award for their own work on quantum tunnelling.

Josephson has spent his academic career as a member of the Theory of Condensed Matter group at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory. He has been a fellow of Trinity College since 1962, and served as professor of physics from 1974 until 2007.

In the early 1970s Josephson took up transcendental meditation and turned his attention to issues outside the parameters of mainstream science. He set up the Mind–Matter Unification Project at the Cavendish to explore the idea of intelligence in nature, the relationship between quantum mechanics and consciousness, and the synthesis of science and Eastern mysticism, broadly known as quantum mysticism. Those interests have led him to express support for topics such as parapsychology, water memory and cold fusion, and have made him a focus of criticism from fellow scientists.


Josephson was born in Cardiff, Wales, to Jewish parents, Mimi (née Weisbard, 1911–1998) and Abraham Josephson. He attended Cardiff High School, where he credits some of the school masters for having helped him, particularly the physics master, Emrys Jones, who introduced him to theoretical physics. In 1957 he went up to Cambridge, where he read mathematics at Trinity College. After completing Maths Part II in two years, and finding it somewhat sterile, he decided to switch to physics.

Josephson was known at Cambridge as a brilliant, but shy, student. Physicist John Waldram recalled overhearing Nicholas Kurti, an examiner from Oxford, discuss Josephson's exam results with David Shoenberg, then reader in physics at Cambridge, and asking: "Who is this chap Josephson? He seems to be going through the theory like a knife through butter." While still an undergraduate, he published a paper on the Mössbauer effect, pointing out a crucial issue other researchers had overlooked. According to one eminent physicist speaking to Physics World, Josephson wrote several papers important enough to assure him a place in the history of physics even without his discovery of the Josephson effect.

He graduated in 1960 and became a research student in the university's Mond Laboratory on the old Cavendish site, where he was supervised by Brian Pippard. American physicist Philip Anderson, also a Nobel Prize winner, spent a year in Cambridge in 1961–1962, and recalled that having Josephson in a class was "a disconcerting experience for a lecturer, I can assure you, because everything had to be right or he would come up and explain it to me after class." It was during this period, as a PhD student in 1962, that he carried out the research that led to his discovery of the Josephson effect; Cambridge unveiled a plaque on the Mond Building dedicated to the discovery in November 2012. He was elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1962, and obtained his PhD in 1964 for a thesis entitled Non-linear conduction in superconductors.

The Josephson Effect

view all

Brian David Josephson, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1973's Timeline

January 4, 1940
Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom