In 1195, monks recorded the first sighting of ball lightning in England. They described it as a "fiery globe threw itself down into the river."
Tanner is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Durham University, U.K., and Adjunct Professor at Dublin City University, Ireland. He moved to Durham in 1973, as a University Lecturer, after holding a Junior Research Fellowship at Linacre College, Oxford, U.K. In 1978, he co-founded Bede Scientific Instruments Ltd., which floated in 2000 as Bede plc and is now a division of the giant Bruker corporation. Promoted to Full Professor in 1990, he was the Head of the Physics Department at Durham University from 1996 to 1999. He retired as Dean for University Enterprise in 2016. From 2003 to 2015, he was Chairman and then Non-executive Director of another spin-out from Durham University, which is listed on the London AIM Stock Exchange as the Kromek Group plc. He has published over 400 papers in refereed international journals, authored two books, co-authored two books, and edited three books. His current research interests include use of high resolution X-ray imaging to study advanced materials and the history of science in the medieval period. He is a member of the core research team of the interdisciplinary Ordered Universe Project studying the scientific works of the 13th century polymath, Robert Grosseteste. A Fellow of the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Arts, Prof. Tanner received the Barrett Award of the Pennsylvania-Based International Center for Diffraction Data in 2005, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2012, and the Gabor Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics in 2014.