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Wade Allison
Emeritus Professor of Physics and Fellow of Keble College at Oxford University

Profile

Wade Allison is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Fellow of Keble College, Oxford University. He is Honorary Secretary of the Supporters Of Nuclear Energy (SONE).
At the age of 13 in 1954 he visited, by chance, the “Atoms For Peace” Exhibition in Geneva. He was educated at Rugby School and won an Exhibition to Trinity College Cambridge where he read Natural Sciences and then Mathematics Pt III. While there he was privileged to attend the lecture course of Paul Dirac, arguably the greatest physicist of the 20th Century. He was awarded his doctorate in Particle Physics at Oxford in 1967. He was elected a Research Fellow of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and a Research Lecturer at Christchurch College before spending two years at the Argonne National Laboratory, USA. In 1976 he was appointed to a University Lecturership in Physics at Oxford and a Tutorial Fellowship at Keble College. He pursued his research in physics, both experimental and theoretical, at CERN and in USA. His most important contribution was in classical electromagnetism, leading to a new method of analysing relativistic charged particles, the ISIS Detector, used successfully at CERN. In his career at Oxford he has taught widely in physics and mathematics, including electromagnetic radiation, nuclear physics and medical physics. In 2006 he published an advanced textbook “Fundamental Physics for Probing and Imaging” that included the science and mathematics of radiation absorption, medical imaging, radiotherapy, geophysics and nuclear dating. Invited to give an alumni lecture on nuclear radiation in medicine, he realised that few people appreciated the benefits of nuclear technology, but that it was not that difficult to explain to them. As a result in October 2009 he published an accessible book “Radiation and Reason, the Impact of Science on a Culture of Fear”. It was self-published having been rejected by half a dozen publishing houses. However, it sold well and, following the Fukushima accident, has been translated into Japanese, Chinese and Korean. He has lectured widely in Europe, USA, Australia, Japan and the UK. In four visits to Japan he came to appreciate the culture of distrust and inept social response to accidents that has so damaged the prospects of surviving climate change. In 2015 he published “Nuclear is for Life, a Cultural Revolution”, another accessible book that explores further the medical, social and philosophical issues, including much that he understood as a result of correspondence with professional colleagues around the world who are members of Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI), a group that he helped to set up. He is just finishing a fourth book “The Flight of a Relativistic Charge in Matter”, but he is already planning a fifth. With the onset of real climate change and COVID19 as an example of a global threat, charting the way that the application of nuclear technology alone can reshape human society is a pressing task. However, what has to be done and the time scale of the task is not yet widely appreciated.

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