GOLD IN THE STARS

September 5 → 5:15 pm6:15 pm

Orkney Theatre, KGS, Kirkwall

Prof. Archie E. Roy Memorial Lecture

How was gold formed? University of Glasgow astrophysicist and ‘black hole hunter’ Prof. Martin Hendry goes on a journey through space and time to seek an answer, and explores how the detection of spacetime ripples from colliding neutron stars has brought exciting new insights into the cosmic origins of precious metals. Along the way he draws inspiration from many great figures in the University’s story – including Prof. William Thomson (a.k.a. Lord Kelvin), born 200 years ago and renowned for turning fundamental scientific ideas into useful inventions that transformed people’s lives; experimental physicist Prof. Ron Drever, of Orcadian ancestry and an early pioneer in the search for gravitational waves; acclaimed astrophysicist Prof. Jocelyn Bell, who discovered the first pulsar in 1967 as a Cambridge graduate student after completing her undergraduate degree at Glasgow and Prof. Archie Roy, born 100 years ago, who inspired a generation of astronomers with the spirit of exploration of the universe and its mysteries.

This is a memorial lecture to the late Prof. Archie E. Roy, who was a good friend of the Festival and a regular and much appreciated speaker in its early years, drawing packed audiences from the outset.

Roy was an old-fashioned polymath who took an interest in a wide variety of subjects. His research covered neural networks, archaeology, psychic phenomena and many other subjects. He also played the organ, painted and was an adequate amateur magician. His laconic ability as a raconteur and love of poetry also made him a sought-after speaker at Burns suppers.

‘He was incredibly dynamic,’ says Professor Martin Hendry, head of physics and astronomy at Glasgow University. ‘He was full of bonhomie and inspired a great many scientists, myself included.’

– Robin McKie in The Guardian, 3 February 2013

Martin Hendry is a senior member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration: the global team of more than 1500 scientists who (with their colleagues in the Virgo Collaboration) made the first ever detection of gravitational waves – a discovery awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics.

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