William Roger Corliss –
William Roger Corliss (1926 – 2011)
It is with much regret that I have learned of the death of Bill Corliss on 8 July 2011, age 84.
I first purchased some of his Sourcebook Project books back in the late 1970s, followed by his Strange Science manuals.
Subsequently, his Web site was one of the first I produced, and one of the first on the Web, in 1997 (qv. archive.org), becoming a UK Web Awards Nominee. I have managed his website, www.science-frontiers.com ever since.
For more details, see:
- July 13, Bill Corliss’s death notice at Baltimore Sun
- July 12, William R. Corliss Dies at Cryptomundo
- July 16, William Corliss RIP at strangehistory.net
- Aug 20, William R. Corliss, Scientific Anomalist at Everything In The Universe
- Aug 28, Some thoughts on the Passing of William Corliss
by Bob Rickard at Charles Fort Institute
- An obituary appears in the October 2011 issue of Fortean Times
- Oct-Dec, “In Memory of William Corliss“, by Patrick Huyghe, EdgeScience #9
My thoughts are with his family.
On July 8, 2011, WILLIAM ROGER CORLISS, age 84. Mr. Corliss was a Navy veteran having served during World War II. As a physicist, he was Director of Advanced Programs in the Nuclear Division at Martins in the 1960s. Later, he became a prolific writer, authoring 57 books on atomic energy, space propulsion, scientific satellites, teleoperators, wind tunnels, and scientific anomalies in all fields of science. He was a loving husband to his wife Virginia for 61 years, and is survived by his wife; his four children, Cathleen, Stephen, Jim, and Laura McCudden; seven grandchildren, and one great-grandson. He will always be remembered for his devotion to his wife and for his sense of humor.
The family will be holding private services. Contributions in his memory may be sent to his alma mater at The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Gifts Processing Center, P.O. Box 3164, Boston, MA, 02241-3164.
Published in Baltimore Sun on July 13, 2011 – Archived at Legacy.com
- William R. Corliss, Scientific Anomalist | Everything In The Universe by Norman Sperling
- William R. Corliss Dies. by Loren Coleman – Cryptomundo
- Obituario. William Roger Corliss by Loren Coleman (Spanish language)
- Some Thoughts on the Passing of William Corliss and About His Legacy by Bob Rickard
- William Corliss (1926-2011), great scientific Fortean: A tribute to UFO researchers and Forteans who died recently – Openminds.tv.
William Corliss (1926-2011), great scientific Fortean
William Roger Corliss, a physicist and prolific author on scientific anomalies, passed away in Maryland on July 8. He was born in 1926 in Stanford, Connecticut, serving in the Navy during World War II and, later as a physicist, was Director of Advanced Programs in the Nuclear Division at Martins in the 1960s. According to the obituary published in the Baltimore Sun, “he became a prolific writer, authoring 57 books on atomic energy, space propulsion, scientific satellites, teleoperations, wind tunnels, and scientific anomalies in all fields of science.” It was this last category, carried on independently through The Sourcebook Project in Glen Arm, Maryland, that made him a very important Fortean.
The website of The Sourcebook Project describes the “Catalog of Anomalies” in the following way: “The Sourcebooks, Handbooks and Catalogs are compiled from 40,000 articles from the scientific literature, the results of a 25-year search through more than 12,000 volumes of scientific journals, including the complete files of Nature, Science, Icarus, Weather, etc. The Sourcebook Project is compiling an objective, unsensationalized catalog of anomalous phenomena.” Corliss was undoubtedly influenced and inspired by the writings of Charles Fort (1874-1932), the great compiler of all kinds of strange occurrences (including early reports of UFOs) now referred as Fortean phenomena. But while Fort pursued this with a unique literary flavor and philosophical approach, Corliss was a methodical scientist bent on classifying all the different types of anomalies.
His books and reports are thus divided in different categories: Biological Anomalies, Ancient Structures and Archaeological Anomalies, Geophysical Anomalies (Earthquakes, Unidentified Sounds, Rare Halos, Nocturnal Lights, etc.), Geological Anomalies, Astronomical Anomalies, etc. They are a fantastic yet sober resource of raw data for anybody wishing to pursue Fortean research. Arthur C. Clarke put it best when he described Corliss as “Fort’s latter-day – and much more scientific – successor,” adding that “unlike Fort, Corliss selected his material almost exclusively from scientific journals like Nature and Science, not newspapers, so it has already been subjected to a filtering process which would have removed most hoaxes and reports from obvious cranks. Nevertheless, there is much that is quite baffling in some of these reports from highly reputable sources.”
I remember meeting William Corliss a couple of times at the FortFest in the Washington, DC area (nowadays held in Baltimore), where he was a frequent speaker. Despite his impressive amount of knowledge and data, he was an unassuming man who didn’t promote himself or made exaggerated claims. He will be greatly missed by all serious researchers.
William R. Corliss: The Sourcebook Project: Strange, bizarre & anomalous phenomena
|William R. Corliss|
|Born||August 28, 1926
|Died||July 8, 2011 (aged 84)|
|Education||Physics, Bsc (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1950),
Physics, M. Sc (University of Colorado, 1953).
William Roger Corliss (August 28, 1926 – July 8, 2011) was an American physicist and writer who was known for his interest in collecting data regarding anomalous phenomena. Arthur C. Clarke described him as “Fort‘s latter-day – and much more scientific – successor.”
Starting in 1974, Corliss published a number of works in the “Sourcebook Project”. Each volume was devoted to a scientific field (archeology, astronomy, geology, et cetera) and featured articles culled almost exclusively from scientific journals. Corliss was inspired by Charles Fort, who decades earlier also collected reports of unusual phenomena. Unlike Fort, Corliss offered little in the way of his own opinions or editorial comments, preferring to let the articles speak for themselves. Corliss quoted all relevant parts of articles (often reprinting entire articles or stories, including illustrations). Many of the articles in Corliss’s works were earlier mentioned in Charles Fort’s works.
In his book Unexplained!, Jerome Clark describes Corliss as “essentially conservative in outlook”. He explains, “Corliss [is] more interested in unusual weather, ball lighting, geophysical oddities, extraordinary mirages, and the like — in short, anomalies that, while important in their own right, are far less likely to outrage mainstream scientists than those that delighted Fort, such as UFOs, monstrous creatures, or other sorts of extraordinary events and entities.” Arthur C. Clarke said:
|“||Unlike Fort, Corliss selected his material almost exclusively from scientific journals like Nature and Science, not newspapers, so it has already been subjected to a filtering process which would have removed most hoaxes and reports from obvious cranks. Nevertheless, there is much that is quite baffling in some of these reports from highly reputable sources.||”|
Corliss wrote many other books and articles, notably including 13 educational books about astronomy, outer space and space travel for NASA and a similar number for the Atomic Energy Commission and the National Science Foundation.
Books published include:
- Propulsion Systems for Spaceflight (1960)
- Radioisotopic Power Generation (with D.G. Harvey; 1964)
- Space Probes and Planetary Exploration (1965)
- Scientific Satellites (1967)
- Mysteries of the Universe (1967)
- Teleoperator Controls (with E.G. Johnsen; 1968)
- Mysteries Beneath the Sea (1970)
- Human Factors Applications in Teleoperator Design and Operation (with Johnsen; 1971)
- History of NASA Sounding Rockets (1971)
- Man and Atom (with Glenn T. Seaborg; 1971)
- History of the Goddard Networks (1972)
- The Interplanetary Pioneers (1972)
- Strange Phenomena: A Sourcebook of Unusual Natural Phenomena (1974)
- Strange Artifacts: A Sourcebook on Ancient Man (1974)
- The Unexplained (1976)
- Strange Life (1976)
- Strange Minds (1976)
- Strange Universe (1977)
- Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena (1977)
- Strange Planet (1978)
- Ancient Man: A Handbook of Puzzling Artifacts (1978)
- Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies (1979)
- Unknown Earth: A Handbook of Geological Enigmas (1980)
- Wind Tunnels of NASA (1981)
- Incredible Life: A Handbook of Biological Mysteries (1981)
- The Unfathomed Mind: A Handbook of Unusual Mental Phenomena (1982)
- Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena (1982)
- Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena (1983)
- Earthquakes, Tides, Unidentified Sounds, and Related Phenomena (1983)
- Rare Halos, Mirages, Anomalous Rainbows, and Related Electromagnetic Phenomena (1984)
- The Moon and the Planets (1985)
- The Sun and Solar System Debris (1986)
- Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos (1987)
- Carolina Bays, Mima Mounds, Submarine Canyons (1988)
- Anomalies in Geology: Physical, Chemical, Biological (1989)
- Neglected Geological Anomalies (1990)
- Inner Earth: A Search for Anomalies (1991)
- Biological Anomalies: Humans I (1992)
- Biological Anomalies: Humans II (1993)
- Biological Anomalies: Humans III (1994)
- Science Frontiers: Some Anomalies and Curiosities of Nature (1994)
- Biological Anomalies: Mammals I (1995)
- Biological Anomalies: Mammals II (1996)
- Biological Anomalies: Birds (1998)
- Ancient Infrastructure: Remarkable Roads, Mines, Walls, Mounds, Stone Circles: A Catalog of Archeological Anomalies (1999)
- Ancient Structures: Remarkable Pyramids, Forts, Towers, Stone Chambers, Cities, Complexes: A Catalog of Archeological Anomalies (2001)
- Remarkable Luminous Phenomena in Nature: A Catalog of Geophysical Anomalies (2001)
- Scientific Anomalies and other Provocative Phenomena (2003)
- Archeological Anomalies: Small Artifacts (2003)
- Archeological Anomalies: Graphic Artifacts I (2005)
- “William R(oger) Corliss”. Contemporary Authors Online. Gale. July 3, 2002. Retrieved on August 6, 2008.
- William J. Broad. “The science corps wants a few more good heretics”. The New York Times. October 16, 1983. A18.
- Clarke, Arthur C. (1990) Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography. Gollancz. Page 110
- Jerome Clark. “Sourcebook Project” Unexplained!. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 466-7.
- Adrian Hope. “Finding a Home for Stray Fact”. New Scientist. July 14, 1977. 83.
- The Sourcebook Project homepage
- Unofficial Sourcebook discussion group
- A Search for Anomalies, by William R. Corliss, Journal for Scientific Exploration, Volume 16: Number 3: Article 6 (2002)
- Works by or about William R. Corliss in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- William Roger Corliss Obituary, Baltimore Sun, July 13, 2011