Professor Anthony Kelly (1929-2014)

  • Date: 05/06/14
  • Professor Michael J. Kelly

Professor Anthony Kelly CBE FREng FRS died on 3 June 2014 aged 85. He is regarded by many as the father of composite materials in the UK.

In 2011 he was honoured for his distinguished career, spanning more than 60 years, with the President’s Medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering for contributing significantly to the Academy’s aims and work through excellence in engineering.

After an early career in Cambridge, where he was a founding Fellow of Churchill College, he was director of the National Physical Laboratory and subsequently Vice-Chancellor of Surrey University before returning to Cambridge and Churchill College on his retirement in 1996.

He was a scientist of the old school, who took ‘Nullius in verba’ as a matter of daily practice. He was properly sceptical until the real world data confirmed his or others’ ideas. He was not impressed by the modern tendency to use incomplete data to weave elaborate stories that could be undone by hard data, or worse, were not capable of falsification. He led the successful effort to get 43 Fellows to petition the Council of the Royal Society to modify its public stance on climate science in 2010, and was unhappy with the most recent announcements of that body. He played a key role in helping the Global Warming Policy Foundation get set up and was a founding and active member of its Academic Advisory Council. He spent his later years as a critic of some aspects of climate science where the consequential actions seemed to him to be doing more harm than good to humanity.

Professor Michael J. Kelly, University of Cambridge