John Nye (1923-), physicist, pioneered the application of theories of plastic deformation developed for metals to the movement of ice sheets and glaciers, publishing a series of key papers during early 1950s. Though involved in a number of important field studies and expeditions, he was able to represent, understand and predict the behaviour of glaciers and ice sheets from hisdesk, using physical and mathematical techniques. In glaciology and more recently in optics, he has explored the role of ‘singularities’ in the structure of ice and the interaction of waves. He served terms as President of the International Glaciological Society and the International Commission for Snow and Ice. In retirement he continues to maintain his research interests in microwaves and optics, and in the polar ice caps of Mars.