Sadly, we report the death of Colin Keay (2/2/1930 – 25/08/2015), one of the main instigators of the Hunter Skeptics, serving as President for many years, as well as an early and regular contributor to The Skeptic. Our deepest sympathies go to Colin’s wife Myra and the rest of his family.
Former executive officer and Australian Skeptics Inc president, Barry Williams writes:
I was saddened to learn of the death of my old and valued friend, Colin Keay.
Colin Stewart Lindsay Keay, born in New Zealand, was an astronomer and from 1965 until his retirement in 1993, he was a senior lecturer then an associate professor at the Physics Department of the University of Newcastle. His work, particularly in investigating near earth asteroids and space junk, earned him many accolades but one that afforded him so much pleasure was when, in 1997, the International Astronomical Union named the asteroid Minor Planet 5007 Keay in his honour.
In his later career he fought a battle to have recognised a phenomenon known as geophysical electrophonics whereby some people claim to hear sounds associated with passing meteorites and auroral displays. The general scientific consensus once was that this was purely a psychological effect but, due in no small part to Colin’s determined research, it is now recognised as a genuine physical phenomenon, though its mechanisms are still not fully understood.
In 1987 Colin formed the first regional Skeptics group, the Hunter Skeptics, in Newcastle and such was his enthusiasm and drive that his group organised successful annual Australian Skeptics National Conventions in 1992, the first such to be held outside a state capital, and again in 1997. Colin also served on the NSW Skeptics committee for many years, travelling to Sydney for each monthly meeting and rarely missing one.
Colin was a great bloke and a fine scientist, with a dry sense of humour. I well recall that when responding to our congratulations at having an asteroid named in his honour, he said “It’s certainly better than having a haemorrhoid named after me”.
Farewell old friend, you will be sadly missed.
Click here for a moving tribute to Colin Keay by his daughter Sue. Click here for an interview with Colin by Richard Saunders.