Philip Harper came from Reading to Heriot Watt University as Professor of Theoretical Physics in the days when the inimitable Des Smith was the only other professor in the Physics Department there.
Philip and Marjorie, with three of their four teenage children, settled close to us on Blackford Hill.
Sadly, Marjorie died in the early 1990s.
When he visited me in, I think, 2008 Philip told me he was about to be married again and move to Austria. A lovely man.
Professor Philip G. Harper joined the Department of Physics at Heriot-Watt University in 1972 and held the post of Chair of Theoretical Physics until his retirement in 1993. Philip was a University Scholar of the old school. In his early career in the late 1950s he worked with the eminent physicist Rudolf Peierls at Birmingham University. Philip then travelled to Australia with his wife Marjorie and their young family where he worked at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for eight years, returning to take up a lectureship at the University of Reading. Philip Harper is best known internationally for ‘the Harper function’, and contributions in fundamental aspects of solid-state physics. He will be remembered by many for his modest manner and dry sense of humour. He was a calming influence at any times of crisis or heated interactions. This and his innate sense of fairness held him in good stead as Dean of the Faculty of Science in the early 1990s. Philip and his wife Marjorie had three daughters and one son; he once described
himself as being ‘heavily married’. Some years after Marjorie’s death Philip found a new soul-mate, Traudi, whom he met playing music together and whom he married. The couple moved to Salzburg, an ideal location given Philip’s love of music. Philip Harper passed away on 10 March 2010.
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