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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
DAVID TABOR 1913–2005
Elected in 1995
“For contributions to the theory of tribology, hardness, and surface physics.”
BY IAN M. HUTCHINGS AND BRIAN J. BRISCOE
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
WE WERE SADDENED to learn of the death, on November 26, 2005, of David Tabor FRS. He died in Cambridge, England, at the age of 92 after a long illness. One of the foremost tribologists of his generation, he was also a major figure in physics and a remarkable person. He was the author of the first paper published in the first issue of Wear, in 1957, and he maintained remarkable ties to that journal, where this obituary was first published.
David Tabor (later known as DT) was born on October 23, 1913, in London, England, to parents who had emigrated from Russia; his father had been an armorer in the Russian imperial army. After undergraduate study at the Regent Street Polytechnic and the University of London (in Imperial College), he moved to Cambridge in 1936 to undertake research in the Department of Chemistry under the supervision of Frank Philip Bowden, a collaboration that lasted until Bowden’s death in 1968. Their first joint publication in 1939 on the area of contact between surfaces established the crucial point that the real area was generally much smaller than the apparent area. This basic principle was fundamental to much of their subsequent work.