Prof. Simon HANDS BA(Cantab) PhD(Edin) FLSW


I left my native Liverpool in 1980 to study physics first at Cambridge, then Edinburgh, and have subsequently held research positions at Oxford, Illinois, Glasgow and CERN. I was appointed as a PPARC Advanced Fellow in the newly-formed particle theory group in the Department of Physics at Swansea in 1993, where I held a PPARC Senior Research Fellowship for the period 2003-05.

I work in the Swansea lattice group. My research uses lattice gauge theory to study microscopic properties of matter (find some old postgrad lecture notes here); in particular the quark-gluon plasma thought to exist for temperatures in excess of a trillion degrees, and currently the object of scrutiny at heavy-ion collision experiments at RHIC and LHC; and the ultra-dense quark matter possibly to be found in the cores of neutron stars. An introduction to the field suitable for final-year physics undergraduates can be found here, and an allegorical graphic novel starring superheroes Thor, Sif and Loki, exploring the concepts from an unexpected direction, and which I helped translate into English, here.

Recently I have become interested in graphene, a remarkable state of carbon formed of a honeycomb sheet only one atom thick. You can see a video of a recent talk I gave here. For the curious, watch a talk I gave to Swansea University Physics Society on the physics behind the 2016 Nobel Prize here,

x image credit Sane Seven

I am co-chair of the Project Board of DiRAC, STFC's distributed high performance computing facility supporting theoretical activity in astronomy, cosmology, nuclear and particle physics. In 2018 the annual community DiRAC Science Day was held in Swansea.

For academic year 2015/16 I was a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow, with a project called
Numerical tools for critical physics in 3d theories of fermions.

From 2008-12 I served on the Scientific Board of the European Centre for Theoretical Studies in Nuclear Physics and Related Areas ECT* located in Trento in northern Italy. In 2006 I also coordinated a Doctoral Training Programme there (click here for a picture). For 2009-2017 I served on STFC's Particle Physics Grants Panel.

I was Principal Organiser of the programme Strong Fields, Integrability and Strings held at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge in the second half of 2007 (click here for a picture).

I have been a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Extreme QCD conference series, and the editorial board of the European Physical Journal A. In 2021 I was recognised by the American Physical Society as an Outstanding Referee for my work on behalf of Physical Review.

In 1993 I was one of five winners of a bottle of vintage champagne offered by the then UK Science Minister, William Waldegrave, for the best description on one side of an A4 page of the Higgs Boson and why we should try so hard to find it. In 2000 I was a member of the particle physics panel of PPARC's Long Term Science Review. In 2009 I contributed to a report on Exaflop Computing in Nuclear Science for the US Department of Energy.

I am married to artist Sally Hands x (click here for a physics-related picture made long ago and far away) and we have one son.
straight crazy wiggles
Sally weaves rugs, and I recently wrote a python script to simulate her loom -- producing balanced and weft-faced patterns in either straight or broken twill.
I'm happy to share the details if you're interested.

I enjoy hands , and hands
and suffer from a lifelong attachment to .

I am currently collaborating with graphic designer Jack Swords on a project called goodlookingphysics.

I am a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales x and a member of the a cappella vocal group The Accidentals. x

You can find a list of my publications on the INSPIRES database, and also on Google Scholar, ORCID, or ResearchGate.
Alternatively check out my academic lineage here, or see how connected I am at LinkedIn.

Want to take me away from all this? Click here for a recent CV.

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