Sunday, 30 December 2012

Way to go

Yesterday I noticed one or two reports on the death of Professor Archie Roy. I'd never heard of him, but for some reason, the reports of his life, brief though they were, made me sit up and take notice.

Professor Archie Roy, the astronomer who dedicated much of his career to investigating the paranormal and life after death, has died aged 88.

The Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at the University of Glasgow was a a consultant to Nasa as it prepared to send a man to the Moon in the 1960s.

However, he was more famous for his lifelong interest in the paranormal. He founded The Scottish Society for Psychical Research in 1987 and wrote many scientific papers and books on the subject.

So, he was a distinguished astronomer, a novelist and a dedicated researcher into the paranormal.

During his long career at Glasgow, Professor Roy published 20 books, including six novels, as well as scientific papers and scores of articles. In 2004 he was awarded the Myers Memorial Medal for outstanding contributions to psychical research by the Society for Psychical Research.

Not only that, but he was pretty successful at the bookmaker.

In 1964, he placed an £11 bet, at 150-1 against, that the Americans would land on the moon by 1971. When they did, he collected £1200, which at the time was enough to pay half of the cost of a semi-detached house in Kelvindale.

With a TV and radio career to keep him from being idle.

The books, and Roy's appearances on TV and radio, did much to popularise interest in psychical research and phenomena. He worked as a consultant on the 1970s BBC Scotland drama The Omega Factor, about a government body that investigates paranormal powers, and later was the inspiration for the Bill Paterson series Sea of Souls.

Even though I know no more of the good Professor than I've read in these reports and a few other links, I warmed to him immediately. I find it truly heartening to have come across him, if only via the reports of his death.

Yes, I think he was probably wasting his time on paranormal research, but so what? That's not for me to decide, because the whole point of a scientific ethos is that we exclude nothing. Nothing is settled. 

Whatever one thinks of astronomy, the paranormal, novel writing or betting, surely his was a life well lived.


James Higham said...

That's not for me to decide, because the whole point of a scientific ethos is that we exclude nothing. Nothing is settled.

Precisely, also in the light of what I said earlier about closed minds.

A K Haart said...

James - yes, there is a tendency to close off too many possibilities.