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Rayleigh, Lord (1842-1919)

Rayleigh, Lord (1842-1919)

World-famous as experimental physicist, the discoverer of argon, and president of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), London (1919). He was born John William Strutt on November 12, 1842. He inherited the title as the 3rd Baron Rayleigh from his father. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge (Senior Wrangler and Smith's Prizeman 1865, Fellow 1866). He was the Cavendish professor of experimental physics at Cambridge (1879-84) and a professor of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution (1887-1905). He was secretary of the Royal Society (1884-1896) and was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1904 for his discovery of argon. He published many scientific papers and one important book Theory of Sound (2 vols., 1894-96).

One of several members of royalty interested in psychical research, Lord Rayleigh married Evelyn Balfour, the sister of Arthur James Balfour, one of the presidents of the SPR in the 1890s. Evelyn Balfour's other sibling was Eleanor Sidgwick, wife of SPR founder Henry Sidgwick. In 1876 in the discussion of William F. Barrett 's paper on Spiritualism before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, he declared that his own interest in the subject dated from 1874. He was first attracted to it by the investigations of Sir William Crookes. "Although," he stated, "my opportunities have not been so good as those enjoyed by Professor Barrett, I have seen enough to convince me that those are wrong who wish to prevent investigation by casting ridicule on those who may feel inclined to engage in it."

Physical phenomena impressed him more than mental phenomena. He had many sittings with Kate Fox-Jencken, one of the Fox sisters, and with Eusapia Palladino. He was nonplussed by the result. Yet he never felt sufficiently convinced to declare himself in public. He paid little attention to automatic writing and trance phenomena. He did not think the evidence for telepathy conclusive, but he declared that, given irrefragable evidence for telepathy between living persons, he would have no difficulty in extending it to telepathy from the dead.

Speaking of Kate Fox-Jencken and the famous medium D. D. Home in his presidential address before the Society for Psychical Research, London, in 1919 (see pp. 275-290) he said: "I repudiate altogether the idea of hallucination as an explanation. The incidents were almost always unexpected, and our impressions of them agreed" (Rayleigh, pp. 275-90). He died June 30, 1919.

Sources:

Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology. New York: Helix Press, 1964.

Rayleigh, Lord. "Presidential Address." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 30, 70 (1918-1919).

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Strutt, John William (3rd Baron Rayleigh) (1842-1919)

Strutt, John William (3rd Baron Rayleigh) (1842-1919)

Physicist who was president of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), London, 1919. He was born on November 12, 1842, at Witham, Essex, England, and was educated at Trinity College of Cambridge University (fellow, 1866). At the height of his outstanding career he was named Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge (1879-84) and then professor of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution (1887-1905). He was also the secretary to the Royal Society for a decade (1887-96). In 1904 he received the Nobel Prize in physics for his isolation of argon. In 1908 he was named chancellor of Cambridge.

Lord Rayleigh became interested in psychical research after reading about the investigations of his colleague Sir William Crookes. He was present at sittings with Kate Fox and Eusapia Palladino. He died on June 30, 1919, a short time after delivering his presidential address to the SPR.

Sources:

Strutt, John William. "Presidential Address." Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 30, no. 77 (1918-19).

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"Strutt, John William (3rd Baron Rayleigh) (1842-1919)." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Strutt, John William (3rd Baron Rayleigh) (1842-1919)." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/strutt-john-william-3rd-baron-rayleigh-1842-1919

"Strutt, John William (3rd Baron Rayleigh) (1842-1919)." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved October 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/strutt-john-william-3rd-baron-rayleigh-1842-1919