Hardy, Sir Alister (Clavering)
English marine biologist who developed methods for ascertaining the numbers and types of minute sea organisms.
Hardy was born in Nottingham and educated at Oxford. In 1924 he joined an expedition to the Antarctic, and on his return in 1928 he was appointed professor at Hull University, where he founded the Department of Oceanography. Clavering was professor of zoology and comparative anatomy at Oxford 1946-65 and master of the Unitarian College, Manchester College, Oxford, 1958-65.
Hardy made his special study of plankton on the 1924 Discovery expedition. The aim of quantitative plankton studies is to estimate the numbers or weights of organisms beneath a unit area of sea surface or in a unit volume of water. He developed the Hardy plankton continuous recorder - a net that can be used behind faster-moving vessels, at a depth of 10 m/33 ft, giving a larger area in which accurate recordings can be made. Surveys using this device now annually cover many thousands of kilometres in the Atlantic, North Sea, and Icelandic waters, for the benefit of fisheries.
He also attempted to apply scientific methods to religious phenomena, conducting a number of research projects into religious experience. He concluded that such experiences were common and classified them into types. Although he held back from claiming that his results proved that religious experience was genuine and therefore that God existed, his work has been cited as evidence for the existence of God by some and of the inappropriateness of scientific methodology in religion by others.
His work is continued by the Alister Hardy Research Centre in Oxford, which is committed to scientific study of the nature and function of religious experience in the human species.
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