Jennifer Coopersmith was born in 1955 in Cape Town, South Africa. The family emigrated to England in 1958, travelling on the Union Castle line. They settled in London (for a while, Jennifer stayed with ‘Granny Belgium’ in Aywaille). She later attended Haberdashers’ Aske’s School in Acton, London, and obtained a BSc and a PhD in physics from King’s College, University of London.
Jennifer was a research associate at the University of British Columbia, working at the Tri-University Meson Facility (TRIUMF) during 1981-2. She finished her PhD in 1983, travelled in India and Nepal in the beginning of 1984, and subsequently worked as a computer programmer at Logica SDS in London, 1984-5 (on the award-winning project for HM Coastguards’ Search & Rescue).
There followed a period of part-time tutoring combined with motherhood (children born in 1986, 1989 and 1995), working at Kingston Polytechnic and Kingston College of Further education (during 1986-7) and then the Open University, 1987-96, teaching S102, S354 and S281 variously at Reading, London, Winchester and Oxford.
In 1997, Jennifer and family left Divinity Road, Oxford and moved to Bendigo, Australia, where they had a ‘hobby farm’ with a cat, dog, goat, hens and two Shetland ponies (by comparison with horses, the ponies made the estate look bigger), and many kangaroos. She taught part-time at La Trobe University in Bendigo and Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne (marking assignments on ‘The Measurement of G’ and ‘Is there a cosmic asymmetry between matter and antimatter?’).
In 2010 Jennifer published “Energy, the Subtle Concept: the discovery of Feynman’s blocks, from Leibniz to Einstein”, Oxford University Press, and then the paperback edition came out in 2015. The book is a semi-popular account of how Energy came into physics. In 2017, she published her second book for the OUP, “The Lazy Universe: an introduction to the Principle of Least Action”. The book has more mathematics in it than her previous book – so it could be considered as semi-semi-popular. Hoping this trend (in reduced popularity) does not continue, Jennifer’s third book is currently under way. Meanwhile (2019), Jennifer and husband, Murray Peake, translated Lazare Carnot’s “Essay on Machines in General” from 18th-century French to English (with notes and commentary by Raffaele Pisano).
In 2015 Jennifer changed countries for the fifth time – she and her husband now live in France.