The Strangest Man in Orkney

Dirac performed onstage last week at the Orkney Science Festival, played by the actor and former physicist David Sumner.

Dirac in Orkney
Photo courtesy of Andrea Blackie

David was the star of The Strangest Man, Graham’s dramatized lecture on the life and work of the great theoretician, first performed in the 2010 Stirling Lecture at the University of Durham. This time, the part of Manci Dirac was played by the Orkney local Ragnhild Ljosland, whose lively performance was a revelation. Rarely had been clearer that, as the Diracs’ elder daughter Mary told Graham ‘It’s a mystery how two people as different as my parents stayed together for so long’.

Earlier in the evening, Graham had been scheduled to interview Peter Higgs, who was unfortunately indisposed. The slot was, however, ably filled by physicists from the University of Durham, who gave impromptu talks on their exhibition Modelling the Invisible. Tweeter Andrea Blackie seemed to be happy with her evening:

Graham said: ‘It was a great pleasure for us to give this presentation at the Orkney Festival, a real feast of top-quality science – Howie Firth does a fine job of putting together a varied programme and of keeping the atmosphere warm and friendly.’