Material Matters

The nuclear power stations of the future

The nuclear power cognoscenti welcomed the election of Jimmy Carter as President of the USA at the end of 1976. He was the only world leader with hands-on experience of...

Improving life expectancy and private vs public education

In the summer of 1944, coinciding with D-Day and the arrival of the first ‘doodle-bug’ flying-bomb, I learned that I had passed the 11 plus exam and had secured a...

James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis and natural uranium reactors

As promised, I return to the subject of James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis which considers the Earth as an intimately linked system of physical, chemical and biological processes, interacting in a...

Is the Gaia theory a good idea?

Imagine you are a student with GCSEs in geology, geography and biology and view the massive white cliffs of Dover on returning from a school trip to France. You would...

Prince Philip, Robert Hooke and Climate Change

A few weeks ago, over pre-dinner drinks at the Royal Society, I was debating with two old friends whether Fred Hoyle or Desmond Bernal had been the more deserving of...

Takeovers and Britain’s poor industrial performance

In the December 2005 issue of Materials World , I wrote about Britain’s failure to invest in industrial R&D. The most recent international R&D scoreboard, published annually by the Department...

The significance of luck in scientific discoveries

In an interview in the Guardian , Woody Allen said that he was amazed that so few people recognise the dominant role that luck plays in their lives. Napoleon certainly...

Availability of uranium and nuclear power

There are about 10 12 tonnes of uranium in the top kilometre of the earth's crust. It is just as well that this is so, as the heat from the...

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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.