John Edwin (‘Jack’) Harris (1932–2009) was a metallurgist, born in Monmouthshire and trained at Birmingham University. His principal research interests were in the fields of creep, creep fracture, vacancy flow and oxidation-induced stress. Working for the Central Electricity Generating Board at Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories, he led a team that pointed the way to significant improvements in nuclear fuel endurance. This permitted a near-doubling of the energy extracted from ‘Magnox’ reactor fuel, for which he received the Royal Society's Esso Gold Medal for Energy Conservation in 1979. After retirement from the electricity supply industry in 1990 he turned increasingly to popular science writing, publishing hundreds of articles in Materials World, New Scientist, Science and Public Affairs and Physics World, among others. These beautifully written pieces reflected his wide range of interests, covering subjects such as nuclear power, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, environmental issues, the decline of UK research, art appreciation and penal reform. Often they displayed his keen eye for curious facts and the ironies and vagaries of life.
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