Material Matters

Manufacturing a change – The decline of engineering, science and manufacturing in the UK

In my November 2006 column, I responded to news that the University of Reading's physics department was to close in a piece entitled ‘Physics at crisis point'. In the Guardian...

Indebted to one another – The Kyoto Protocol and greenhouse gas emissions

There is a scene in the recent TV docudrama on the last days of Robert Maxwell in which he tells his Board he is not worried by a £4 billion...

Right up your street – Carlton House Terrace, London, and the Institutes who reside on the street

The Royal Academy of Engineering has found a new home at 3 Carlton House Terrace, London, UK. It will have the Royal Society on one side at number 6 and...

The stepping stones of life – Degrees of separation

During the past decade and a half I have written about 160 columns for Materials World and its predecessors, and I am beginning to wonder how much longer I can...

The habit of a lifetime – The debate surrounding the lifespan of Britain’s Trident submarines

In Oliver Wendell Holmes's poem, ‘The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay', a horse-drawn carriage was designed to run ‘for a 100 years to the day', and, indeed, on its 100th anniversary a...

From polonium to plutonium – The poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko

Like the radioactive element itself, the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, is an affair which is pervasive and persistent - accounts of polonium contamination of even more London restaurants and aeroplanes...

On the trail of polonium – The history of polonium-210

Following the poisoning and death of the former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, I have been assailed by kith and kin to give an account of the poisoning agent, polonium-210. The...

Disputing the notion that materials are 'boring'

On annual visits to Scotland, driving just north of the border along the A74(M), I always slow down at the sign to the Scottish Museum of Lead Mining, but then...

The decline in students studying Physics

Friends ring me up or stop me in the street to tell me how pleased I must be that nuclear power looks as though it’s in for some sort of...

A possible solution to global warming

It was Jean Fourier who, in 1827, first realised that it was the atmosphere that protects us from the coldness of space. In the 1850s, John Tyndall recognised that only...

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Material Matters was the regular Materials World column on topical issues, established by and written for many years by Jack Harris until he passed away in February 2009. From June 2010 it was written by Craig Durham CEng MIMMM, a Senior Production Engineer working in the upstream oil and gas industry and Past President of the Mining Institute of Scotland.