Richard Langton Gregory
CBE, D.Sc., FRSE, FRS
With great sadness we announce that Richard Gregory died on May 17, 2010
Department of Experimental Psychology,
University of Bristol,
12a Priory Road, Clifton,
Bristol BS8 1TU
Tel. 0117 928 8461
Fax 0117 928 8461
Date and place of birth, Parents (English)
24th July 1923. London. Son of Christopher Clive Langton Gregory (Astronomer; first Director of the University of London Observatory), and Helen Patricia (née Gibson)
King Alfred School, Hampstead.
Served in the R.A.F. during the War. (Signals.)
Posted by the Air Ministry to explain radar and communication systems to the public - in Oxford Street, John Lewis bomb site (4 million visitors in six months).
Cambridge University. Downing College. Read Philosophy and Experimental Psychology (by scholarship from the RAF, by "Forces Preliminary" examination).
Research Worker, M.R.C. Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge.
Seconded for one year to the Royal Navy, Physiological Laboratory, Whale Island, Portsmouth, to design and run experiments on escaping from submarines, following the Affray disaster.
University Demonstrator then Lecturer: Department of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge.
Lectured on Perception, scientific method, cybernetics.
Set up practical class for psychology students. Special class on experiments for philosophers.
Designed and directed the Special Senses Laboratory. This was used to investigate perceptual problems to be anticipated for Astronauts: judgement of speed and distance for moon landing and docking. (With rank of Colonel in the US Air Force.)
Investigated a rare case of adult recovery from blindness (S.B.), with Jean Wallace. This showed that exploratory touch is very important for visual perception.
Invented various instruments (financed by the MRC and DSIR): Digital printing data recorder (THOTH); Solid Image Microscope; Hetero-chromatic Photometer; image-improving telescope camera (ARID); for minimising effects of atmospheric turbulence, with a novel autocorrelation and sampling technique. Supported with a Paul Fund Grant from the Royal Society and by the US Air Force. Built by Stephen Salter, tested on large telescopes in New Mexico and Arizona.
Devised the "Inappropriate Constancy Scaling" theory of distortion illusions, which stressed the brain's "software" (rather than its physiology), for explaining many perceptual phenomena. This led to interest in AI for investigating brain strategies: the "software" might be transferred to intelligent machines.
Developed notion that perceptions are Hypotheses, much like predictive hypothoses of science.
Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Visiting Professor at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Visiting Professor at M.I.T.
Published Eye and Brain (Weidenfeld and Nicholson)
Visiting Professor at University of New York, N.Y.U. Graduate School.
Discovered that the curious eyes of the Copepod Copilia Quadrata, work by scanning, like a mechanical television cameras. (At the Zoological Stazione, Naples.)
Presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, The Intelligent Eye. (Six lectures, televised by BBC, published 1970).
With Prof. Donald Michie and Prof. Christopher Longuet-Higgins FRS, founded the Department of Machine Intelligence and Perception, in the University of Edinburgh.
Professor of Bionics. Department Chairman 1968-70.
Published The Intelligent Eye (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)
Organized Institute of Contemporary Arts Exhibition, Illusion in Nature and Art, with Sir Roland Penrose and Sir Ernst Gombrich OM. (This travelled to New York and San Fransisco).
Appointed Professor of Neuropsychology, and Director of the Brain and Perception Laboratory, The Medical School, University of Bristol. Funded by the MRC, for research on cognitive neural processes of perception.. This was based on the notion of perceptions as Predictive Hypotheses. Clinical implications included Parkinsons disease.
Second expedition to investigate Copilia Quadrata.
Founded international journal, Perception, published by Pion Ltd., London.
Summer at Bell Telephone Laboratories, New Jersey, working with Geoff Courtney-Pratt, on chromatic aberration version of Solid Image microscope.
Edited (and wrote many of the entries for) The Oxford Companion to the Mind. (Published 1987 paperback 1988).
Founded the EXPLORATORY Hands-On science centre in Bristol. (The first in Britain. Initial funding from the Nuffield Foundation, and David Sainsbury). 1981. Chairman 1981- 1992. First Exploratory exhibition at BAA Norwich meeting, 1984. Open daily in the Victoria Rooms, 1987. Moved to renovated Brunel Station, at Temple Meads, 1989. Has attracted over 2,000,000 paying visitors. Closed 1st Sept. 1999.
Published Mind in Science. (Weidenfeld and Nicolson).
British Council Lecturer: Southern India.
Retired from Personal Chair.
Professor Emeritus: University of Bristol.
Moved from the Medical School to Department of Psychology.
Osher Visiting Fellow, the Exploratorium, San Francisco.
McDonnell-Pew Visiting Fellow, University of Southern California (UCSD) San Diego.
Visiting Professor, University of California at San Diego. (Summer School Course on History of Psychology).
Collaborated with V.S. Ramachandran on filling-in of scotomas experiment.
Royal Society Michael Faraday Medal.
Helped to get funding for Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, to be a Science Centre for the public and a resource for astronomy. (Made available by Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, following a gift of ?7 million by Dr. Alfred Bader to that University for the purchase of the Herstmonceux Estate.) Now run by Stephen Pizzey.
Edited and wrote part of : Evolution of the Eye and Visual System (Macmillan).
Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship.
Visiting Professor, University California at San Diego. (Summer School course on History of Psychology.)
Published Even Odder Perceptions (Routledge).
Senior Research Fellow, University of Bristol
Published Mirrors in Mind (Spektrum/W.H. Freeman. Penguin 1998).
5th, revised and expanded edition of Eye and Brain (OUP).
Organized (with Professor Horace Barlow and Dr.James Anderson) Royal Society Discussion Meeting, "Knowledge-based vision in man and machine".
Radio and Television
Radio Programmes (include)
Contributed to hundreds of science programmes and discussions on perception and other topics, including about 20 contributions to Science Now.
Also: Phone-in, Dial a Scientist; Any Questions; Book Shelf; Round Britain Quiz, defending the West Country (not very well!) for 2 years with John Foote. Man of Action. Desert Island Discs (April 1993), Quote Unquote. Start the Week, BBC Documentaries: Recovery from blindness, The Big Illusion: five programmes, BBC Radio 4.
TV Programmes (include)
Contributed to hundreds of science and other discussion programmes, including:
Horizon, (on RLG's work at Cambridge); The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (1969-70) Nigel Calder's science spectaculars; a judge of Scientist of the Year (for 5 years); Don't Take Anyone's Word for It (3); Thinking Aloud (3); States of Mind , with Jonathan Miller. Byline: Blind to Science, (Presented July 1989. 50 minutes, on BBC Channel One, received BAA special award). Introduction to Perception for Discovery Channel.
Chairman of Trustees and Hon Science Director of the Exploratory.
President of the Exploratory.
First President of ECSITE. (European Consortium of Science Industry and Technology Exhibitions.) Life member of International Board.
Member of Board of Management of the McDonnell-Pew Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Oxford.
Life Member of Experimental Psychology Society.
Board of Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bristol.
Member of the Library Committee of the Royal Society.
Member of the Advisory Board, The British Library.
Member At-Bristol Board.
Designed the Perception Gallery for the Human Biology exhibition (set up by Roger Miles) the Natural History Museum, South Kensington.
Member of the planning committee for 'Launch Pad' Hands-on gallery, the Science Museum, London.
"Godfather" to the Mind Zone of the Millennium Dome, Greenwich.
Wolfsburgh Science Centre, Germany.
Founder, Editor-in-Chief, international journal Perception. (Published, Pion Ltd., London)
General Editor Colston Papers. (University of Bristol).
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Behavioural and Brain Sciences.
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
Journal of Intelligent Systems
Science and Public Affairs (Royal Society)
Societies and Clubs
Founder Member of the Experimental Psychological Society,
Life Member, 1993 -
Member, Royal Institution of London.
Chairman Humphry Davy Committee (1975);
Member of Council 1991;
Vice-President 1992 - 5.
(Presented Christmas Lectures, The Intelligent Eye (1967); five R.I Discourses; Singapore Discourses (1987); BAA Discourse (1990); Faraday Anniversary Discourse (Autumn 1991).
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
The Savile Club, London.
Bristol Scientific Society.
President of Section 'J' (Psychology) British Association for the Advancement of Science.
Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. (Christmas Lectures (1970).
Fellow of the British Psychological Society.
President of Section X (General Section) the BAA.
Founder-President of Section Q (History of Science), the BAA.
President of Section Q, the BAA (for second term).
The Athenaeum, London.
Royal Institution. Member of Council (1991-1994).
Vice President (1992-5).
Elected Member of Royal Society Dining Club.
Chelsea Arts Club.
Electronic Research Council (M.O.D.) Radar Committee. Served on Working Parties: (1) Air Traffic Control, (2) Identification of ships by Radar signals.
Flying Personnel Research Committee's Vision Committee (M.o.D. (R.A.F.)).
M.R.C. Hearing Co-ordinating Group.
Colston Research Society Committee (Bristol).
Chairman of Trustees and Hon Science Director, the EXPLORATORY Hands-on Science Centre.
COPUS - Royal Society, Royal Institution, British Association, Committee for the Public Understanding of Science. Joint Chairman of the Interactive Science Centres Group.
Member, BBC Science Advisory Board.
Founding President of ECSITE. (European Collaborative of Science Industry and Technology Exhibitions).
Board of McDonnell-Pew Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Oxford.
Honorary Life Member, International Board of ECSITE.
Member, Royal Society Library Committee.
Board of Institute of Advanced Studies, Bristol University.
Member, Advisory Council of the British Library. (Royal Society representative).
Board of Bristol 2000 (now @Bristol), Bristol Millennium Project.
"Godfather" (Advisor) to the Mind Zone of the Millennium Dome, Greenwich.
Patron, Clifton Scientific Trust.
Board Member, Multi A.
D. Univ. Open.
D. Univ. Stirling.
D.Sc. East Anglia
Hon. Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Hon. Fellow, Downing College, Cambridge.
Hertford College, Oxford.
Magdalen College, Oxford.
Honours and Prizes
Craik Prize for Physiological Psychology, St. John's College, Cambridge.
CIBA Foundation Senior International Research Prize -
With colleagues Violet Cane and Jean Wallace - for experimental thesis: "Neural Noise and Ageing."
Waverley Gold Medal (for inventing Solid-Image Microscope).
Fellow, Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, City of London.
Silvanus Thompson Medal.
BAA Television Award. For presenting Byline: Blind to Science.
Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. New Year's Honours list. Presented by the Queen
Capire International Prize. Prato-Firenze, Italy. Creative Future: 'Promotion of Advanced Educational Research'
Primo Rovis Prize. Trieste, Italy. (First recipient. $20,000)
F.R.S. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London.
Royal Society, Michael Faraday Medal. For promoting science; especially for books and founding the Exploratory.
Lord Crook Gold Medal, from the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers. (Presented by the Lord Mayor of London)
Fellow, Institute of Physics.
Hughling Jackson Gold Medal, from the Royal Society of Medicine, ( Division of Neurological Sciences)
Simonyi Lecture. Department Public Understanding of Science, Oxford.
Medawar Lecture (Royal Society Prize Lecture) "Knowledge for Vision: Vision for Knowledge"
Lecture to the Pontifical Council, the Vatican "Hands-on Science"
[ See also Publications List ]
Recovery from Early Blindness: A case Study. With
Jean Wallace. (1963) Exp. Soc. Monogr. No.2. Cambridge:
Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing (1966). London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. [In twelve languages]. Second Edition (1972). Third Edition (1977). Fourth Edition (1990). USA: Princeton University Press; (1994) Oxford: Oxford University Press.; Fifth Edition (1997) Oxford University Press and (1998) Princeton University Press.
The Intelligent Eye (1970). London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. [In 6 languages].
Illusion in Nature and Art. (1973). Edited with Sir Ernst Gombrich. London: Duckworth.
Concepts and Mechanisms of Perception (1974) London: Duckworth. [Collected papers].
Mind in Science: A History of Explanations of Psychology and Physics (1981). London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson; USA: CUP. Paperback, Peregrine (1984). (Macmillan Scientific Book Club choice). Transl. Italian, La Mente nella, Scienze, Mondador (1985).
Odd Perceptions [Essays]. (1986). London: Methuen. Paperback (1988) Routledge. (2nd edition 1990-91).
Hands-On Science: an introduction to the Bristol Exploratory (1986). London: Duckworth. (Forward by Sir George Porter, PRS. Contributions by Francis Evans and James Dalgety).
Creative Intelligences (1987). Edited with Pauline Marstrand. London: Francis Pinter.
Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987). Oxford: OUP. [Translated into Italian, French, Spanish. In TSP Softbacks, and other Book Clubs]. Paperback 1998.
Evolution of the Eye and Visual System (1992) Edited with John R Cronly-Dillon. Vol 2 of Vision and Visual Dysfuction. London: Macmillan.
Even Odder Perceptions (1993). [Essays]. London: Routledge.
The Artful Eye (1995) Edited with J.Harris, P.Heard and D. Rose. Oxford: OUP
Mirrors in Mind (1997). Oxford: W.H.Freeman/Spektrum. (1998) Penguin.
The Mind Makers (1998). London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
Oxford Companion to the Mind (2nd Edition) (2004) Oxford: OUP
Seeing Through Illusions (2009) Oxford: OUP
Photograph by Martin Haswell