The “rubbing and scrubbing department” was how David Tabor's friction,lubrication and wear laboratory was described by certain uncharitable colleagues at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, some 40 years ago. The tables have turned. Tribology, as Tabor named his discipline (from the Greek tribos, meaning “rubbing”), has become respectable—even positively modish—in physics departments worldwide. And Tabor, having become the revered elder statesman of this flourishing field, is often accorded a place in reference of even the most hardcore tribo‐physics papers.
Though simply expressed, the laws of friction encapsulate a host of microscopic and nanoscopic phenomena whose elucidation has become one of the most fascinating pursuits in applied physics.