Undividing the Discipline: Social Interfaces in Ceramics Science and Engineering

John McCloy, Washington State University, USA, john.mccloy@wsu.edu

Some of the most interesting phenomena occur at the interfaces. Such has been found to be the case in the last decade in technical areas of ceramic science. This talk argues that interesting problems and solutions can also be found at the interfaces of traditional disciplines as well as subdisciplines. Several examples are given, both from others’ and from my work.  For instance, the understanding of long time scales in the context of nuclear waste disposal has important technical as well as cultural implications. While ‘deep time’ scales are familiar to geologists and archaeologists looking backwards, they are more cumbersome for technical scientists and engineers doing future predictions of performance amid significant complexity and uncertainty.  Focusing on the material itself can provide interesting inter- and cross-disciplinary interactions. Glass production and glass degradation studies connect ACERS communities in optical materials, nuclear and environment, and conservation science, for instance. Other examples can be discussed from bioceramics to armor design, or from natural mineral crystal chemistry to nuclear waste form design.  Finally, an overall view of crystallization of new ideas is offered, based on nucleation and growth at social interfaces of dissimilar researchers.