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Tabor, David

TABOR, DAVID (1913–2005), English physicist. Tabor was born in London and educated at the Quintin Hogg School. He graduated in physics from the Royal College of Science, London University and Caius College, Cambridge University. He joined the staff of the Cavendish Laboratory for Physics and Chemistry of Solids at the University of Cambridge and became deputy director. He worked in Australia (1939 –49) and returned to Cambridge where he became professor (1973). His field of research was tribology, the study of friction and wear between solid surfaces. His work with F.P. Bowden clarified the nature of the interactions between microscopic irregularities that create friction through adhesion between surfaces in contact. Later, in collaboration with Jacob Israelachvili, he developed methods for analyzing these processes on an atomic scale. His papers have become classics in this field and his findings have been of great practical relevance to machine design. In 1939 Tabor and F.P. Bowden set up the Tribophysics Laboratory in the University of Melbourne, Australia, which worked on ball bearings for military use during World War II and subsequently achieved an international reputation for the industrial applications of its research. Tabor was elected to the Royal Society of London (1963), from which he received the Royal Medal (1992) for his seminal contributions to the field of friction and wear between solids. Active in the Habonim movement, he was the first chairman of the Youth Department of the Australian Zionist Federation in Australia. He was a recognised Hebrew scholar.

His brother ISRAEL TABOR (1911–1991) graduated in electrical engineering from Imperial College, London and worked as an electrical engineer. On the invitation of Pinchas Rutenberg, he joined the Palestine (later the Israel) Electric Corporation in 1946, becoming its director of research. He retired in 1983. Another brother, Harry Zvi *Tabor (1917– ) was an authority on the harnessing of solar energy.