Duncan Douglas Lindsay
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Flower of the Forest

Duncan Douglas Lindsay

1916 - 2002

Duncan Douglas Lindsay was born in Nettlebed, Oxfordshire, England on June 11, 1916.  He died on August 6, 2002.  Duncan is survived by his wife Nancy Harris Lindsay and by his children Nigel, David, Helen and Heather Lindsay. 

Duncan Douglas Lindsay was only two years old when his father, Robert Lindsay, died.   Duncan and his mother, the former Mary Turnbull, eventually moved to Thorncliffe Road, Oxford, England in 1922. 

Duncan D. Lindsay studied at the City of Oxford School from 1925 to 1934, taking a special interest in Classics, Physics, and Mathematics.  Unsure at first whether to pursue classics (particularly Greek) or science at university, his developing interest in the synthesis of science and religion led him reluctantly to give up classics.  He studied physics as a Kitchener Scholar at Exeter College in 1934, graduating with an excellent degree in 1937.  In addition to academic work, he took a keen interest in rowing, representing his college on a number of occasions. 

For the first two years after graduating, Duncan Douglas Lindsay worked in private industry in Luton and Cambridge, England chiefly doing research on automatic control systems.  In the following year, he continued his research work at what was then University College, Hull. 

On the outbreak of war, his lifelong pacifist principles meant that he could not countenance any military work (a decision which he fully recognized would lead to career setbacks).  Instead, he moved to Fleet (Hants) and worked from 1940 to 1945 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (R.A.E. – Farnborough, a government aviation research center), on air-sea rescue.  Much of his work at this time was centered on ways of desalinating seawater for drinking. 

On December 24, 1943, Duncan Douglas Lindsay married Nancy Harris, producing a strong, close and mutually supportive marriage that was to last for over 58 years. 

After the war, Duncan D. Lindsay moved to Scunthorpe to become Head of the Physics Department at Lincolnshire Radiotherapy Centre.  Here he was instrumental in developing new treatments for cancer, and for improving the safe handling of radioactive materials.  He was impatient with the lack of research opportunities, however, and moved to Aberdeen University in 1951. 

Duncan Douglas Lindsay’s appointment was initially as Lecturer in the Medical Physics Department.  Later, he became Senior Lecturer, and responsible for much of the administration of a rapidly growing area of the University's work.  While in the Department he was involved in development work on the safe storage and use of radioactive sources; anti-stammering devices; magnetic imaging; and the use of hypothermia as a treatment for cancer.  During the 1950s, he produced the draft of a lengthy book examining the possible synthesis of theology and science, particularly through examination of the behavior of elementary particles.  The quest to produce a satisfactory theory in which something of the nature of God could be deduced from the study of atomic physics remained his chief academic interest thereafter.  It had a practical aspect, too, linking with his concern for the church’s healing mission.  While of course he published on other matters, and taught students over three decades both in the University and through the Workers' Educational Association (WEA, a national organization that provides evening classes and self-improvement material for the general population), this remained his greatest interest.  It was a continuing disappointment to him that work he regarded as of central importance could not attract the interest of book or periodical publishers, and that the commitment of both physicists and theologians to accepted wisdom meant that peer review of his work was unfavorable. 

Conversely, Duncan Douglas Lindsay valued enormously the interest of those friends and colleagues who were open to his challenging proposals.  Duncan retired from Aberdeen University in 1981, by this time a pivotal and much-loved figure in the Department.  Thereafter, he and Nancy spent much of the next twelve years doing some of the traveling they had earlier postponed.  They visited Russia, Sweden, Finland, Israel, and other countries for the first time in their sixties and seventies, enjoying the chance to extend academic and other interests.  Among these was the Kitchener Scholars Association (for whom he organized a memorable visit to Orkney in the 1980s). 

Duncan Douglas Lindsay was a member of the Oxford Society for many years and when the northeast Scotland branch was formed in the 1980s he became a founding member.  Duncan and Nancy attended a number of meetings until his health deteriorated.  He always had a lively interest in Oxford and was a very useful sounding board to the Branch Secretary on members interests.  In 1996 he suffered the first of a series of strokes, but remained active in thought, even preparing a paper for publication in a popular scientific journal.

Duncan Douglas Lindsay (1916 - 2002) was a great gentleman and will be sorely missed. 

The preceding obituary, was provided by Nigel Lindsay, Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Duncan Douglas Lindsay.

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