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Wade Allison
Born 1941
Education Cambridge University
Title Professor

Professor Wade Allison (born 1941) is a Professor in Physics at Oxford University, researcher and author of his latest book “Radiation and Reason - The Impact of Science on a Culture of Fear“.


Early life

Wade Allison was born in 1941 in wartime Britain, the son of a fleet air arm pilot serving with arctic convoys. At school he was not one to follow the crowd nor top of the class but always passing successfully to the next academic stage.

At the age of ten he recalls correcting the error of a less-than-competent mathematics master - and being punished as a result, a formative step in the establishment of his measured self-confidence. In 1954 at the age of 13 he was taken ill on a family holiday in France and, anxious for his safety, his parents took him to Geneva, where he recovered quickly. While there he visited the exhibition "Atoms for Peace", held as part of the founding of CERN. This experience started him on a life-long career in physics that took him through a study of physical science in general, to particle physics, and eventually back to his current concern with radiation and what nuclear physics can do for mankind, now and in the future.

He left Rugby School in 1959 for Trinity College Cambridge with an Open Exhibition in Natural Science. There he gained a First Class in Part I of the Tripos, before taking Part II in Physics and Part III in Mathematics in 1963. At Oxford he studied for a DPhil in Particle Physics, becoming on the way the last student permitted to operate Oxford University's thermionic valve Ferranti Mercury computer. He was elected to a Research Lecturership (JRF) at Christchurch, Oxford in 1967 and a Fellow of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. He spent two years at the Argonne National Laboratory before returning to Oxford in 1970.

In 1976 he was appointed a University Lecturer in the Physics Department at Oxford, later with the title of Professor. At the same time he was elected to a Tutorial Fellowship at Keble College. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota in 1995. During his career he served periods as Associate Chairman of the Oxford Physics Department, Senior Tutor and Sub-Warden of Keble College. He retired officially in 2008, since when he has continued to teach, lecture and study. He is currently a Senior College Lecturer and Fellow by Special Election at Keble College.

Research interests

His background is in experimental Particle Physics. In earlier years he developed new experimental methods with their theory, and applied these in experiments on quarks at CERN and on neutrinos in the USA. He made special studies on the fields of relativistic charged particles in matter. As a result of initiating some years ago an optional student course on applications of nuclear physics, his interests moved sideways into medical physics, in particular safety, therapy and imaging across the full spectrum: ionizing radiation, ultrasound and magnetic resonance. He spent 3 years writing an advanced student text book Fundamental Physics for Probing and Imaging (2006), before starting work on his new publication, Radiation and Reason (2009).


He first gave the principal Electromagnetism course to physicists at Oxford in 1977, and again for many years up until 2003. He also gave the main course in Nuclear Physics for several years, and still gives his Medical and Health Physics course. His graduate course on the Relativistic Electromagnetism of Charged Particles ran for more than ten years. In Keble College at a tutorial level he has taught most branches of physics, including the necessary mathematics. The physics student application at Keble has been the largest in the University for many years, in part because it is located next to the Department. As a result he has taught many stimulating students. Many years ago he started a residential Physics Revision Week for students in Keble and now every year also runs the University outreach Sutton Trust Summer School for aspiring physics students. He says "only when you teach something do you really get to understand it", and "teaching outside your comfort zone is most stimulating, if hard work". Maybe that is why he has been able to keep true to his ambition of a broad but deep understanding.

Academic biography

  • Fellow by Special Election and Senior College Lecturer, Keble College, Oxford (2008)
  • Visiting Professor, Dept of Physics & Astronomy, University of Minnesota (1995)
  • Tutorial Fellow of Keble College, Oxford (1976 - 2008)
  • University Lecturer in Physics, Oxford (1976 - 2008)
  • Research Officer, Nuclear Physics Lab., Oxford (1970 - 1975)
  • Post-doctoral appointment, Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, USA (1968 - 1970)
  • Research Lecturer, Christchurch College, Oxford (1966 - 1971)
  • Christchurch College, Oxford, D Phil (1963 - 1968)
  • Trinity College, Cambridge, Open Exhibitioner, Nat. Sci. Pt I (First), Physics Pt II (Second) Maths Pt III (1959 - 1963)


Professor Wade Allison has authored two books:

  • Radiation and Reason - The Impact of Science on a Culture of Fear (2009)
  • Fundamental Physics for Probing and Imaging (2006)


  • Wade Allison, Radiation and Reason - The Impact of Science on a Culture of Fear (ISBN 0-9562756-1-3, October 2009) Website:
  • WWM Allison et al, Ab initio liquid hydrogen muon cooling simulations with ELMS, J Phys G Nucl. Part. Phys. 34(2007)679-685
  • Wade Allison, Fundamental Physics for Probing and Imaging Oxford University Press (2006)
  • G Alner, D Ayres, G Barr et al., Neutrino Oscillation Effects in Soudan-2 Physical Review D, 72 (2005), 052005 23pp
  • WWM Allison Calculations of energy loss and multiple scattering (ELMS) in Molecular Hydrogen J Phys G, 29 (2003), 1701-1703
  • WWM Allison et al., The atmospheric neutrino flavor ratio from a 3.9 fiducial kiloton year exposure of Soudan2 Physics Letters, B 449 137 (1999)
  • WWM Allison An article in Experimental Techniques in High Energy Physics, ed. Ferbel, World Scientific (1991)
  • WWM Allison and JH Cobb, Relativistic Charged Particle Identification by Energy Loss Annual Reviews in Nuclear & Particle Science, 30 (1980), 253

External links



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