Ich Bin Kentishtowner: Jon Butterworth, 45, physics professor

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17SharesJon Butterworth grew up in Manchester. He is professor of physics at UCL, and works on the ATLAS experiment at …


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"The worst thing anyone’s said to me?  I had cycled up Highgate Hill, on the anniversary of my second son's death, on the way to the cemetery. I was exhausted and sad. Some git in a car said 'Cheer up'."
“The worst thing anyone’s said to me?
I had cycled up Highgate Hill, on the anniversary of my second son’s death, on the way to the cemetery. I was exhausted and sad. Some git in a car said ‘Cheer up’.”

Jon Butterworth grew up in Manchester. He is professor of physics at UCL, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, Geneva. He recently helped find the Higgs boson. A parent governor at Brookfield Primary (where he plays dodgy guitar in a dad’s band), Jon also writes regularly about life and physics for The Guardian.

When were you happiest?
The morning (actually the two weeks) after my son was born. Blissful. And nothing in the diary.

Where would you like to live?
Always fancied Grove Terrace.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
The Saturday market at William Ellis School.

Higgs Boson: his greatest achievement? He hopes not. Photo: CERN
Higgs boson: his greatest achievement? He hopes not…Photo: CERN
What is your greatest life achievement?
I hope I haven’t done it yet.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Shut up and listen. Sometimes.

What is your earliest K-Town memory?
Pulling back the big velvet curtain at the Pineapple and finding a party going on. A very friendly party, great welcome to London.

What makes you unhappy?
Delayed flights. Hangovers. Overflowing email inboxes. Good people being stupid.

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
An extra room.

Hip and he knows it: Southampton Arms
Hip and he knows it: Southampton Arms
What is your most unappealing habit?
Evading questions.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Taking a sneaky cold, sunny morning off work and walking up to the Heath for a coffee.

Where do you hang out?
These days mostly twitter, it seems. But also the Dartmouth Arms or the Southampton (hipster that I am). Or the Jeremy Bentham after work.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I don’t want to draw your attention to it.

What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
I had cycled up Highgate Hill, on the anniversary of my second son’s death, on the way to the cemetery. I was exhausted and sad. Some git in a car said “Cheer up”.

Tell us a secret.
No. It’s a secret.

What has your career taught you?
If you don’t have a succession plan, you’re trapped.

Moonlighting in the Dad's Army
Moonlighting.
What is your favourite dish and why?
At the moment I really like the anchovies, onions and butter on toast at The Vine. It is tasty and very close to home.

What was your worst gig and why?
Possibly the Twisden Rd street party, when the moment we (The Dädbeats) got on stage, everyone rushed to the other end of the street to get their faces painted or something.

Describe yourself as an animal.
Oook.

With thanks to Tom Clarke, Science Editor, Channel 4 News.

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What happened when our intrepid Young Kentishtowner reporters went to interview Jon?

Last year, we dispatched four eager young local schoolkids to meet the man himself. Start with 11 year old Paris’ account here, then head to 10 year old Joshua’s interview; before finally Diamantis (age 13) and Finley (age 9) pin him down with their questions. Phew!

Got a suggestion for Ich Bin Kentishtowner? Email info@kentishtowner.co.uk

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