The following is the presidential address delivered before the New Zealand Institute Science Congress, Palmerston North, on the 28th January, 1921, by Thomas Hill Easterfield, M.A., Ph.D., F.I.C., F.N.Z.Inst., Director of the Cawthron Institute of Scientific Research, and Emeritus Professor in Victoria, University College:—
Ladies and Gentlemen,—Our meeting to-night is saddened by the absence of two of our members whose names are familiar to you all: I allude to the late Sir David Hutchins and Mr. Kenneth Wilson. It was the intention of Sir David Hutchins to read a paper on forestry at this Congress. His whole life had been devoted to the study of forest problems in Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand, and the fact that our Dominion has at last adopted an active forest policy is in no small measure due to his persistent advocacy of this step.
Mr. Kenneth Wilson was one of the founders of the Manawatu Philosophical Society, and its first President. He was for many years a member of the Board of Governors of the New Zealand Institute. That the present meeting is being held in Palmerston North is largely due to his efforts.
Addressing, as I am, an audience containing but few with an intimate knowledge of the science which has been my life-study, I decline to weary you by attempting any account of the progress made in chemistry or in any branch of it. I have therefore chosen as the subject of my address “Some Aspects of Scientific Research.”
At an early stage in the history of the human race man must have learnt that knowledge is the equivalent of power, and that the acquisition of new knowledge is of great importance in the struggle for existence. It is not probable that the idea of systematic experiment was common—indeed, the idea is still foreign to the conception of the average man. It would be natural for the first systematic observations to be made on the apparent movements of the heavenly bodies—the most systematically recurring of all natural phenomena. The fact that the orientation of the starry heights is definite for the seasons of the year could not long have escaped observation, and a practical interest would thus be added to the study of the heavens. It is probable that the arrangement of the constellations much in their present order was carried out in Babylonia at least three thousand years before the Christian era. In no other branch of knowledge have early observations of the same degree of exactitude remained on record.
From many points of view agriculture must be regarded as the most important of human activities, and at a very early stage man must have been faced by the problems of the soil. Experience gained by long observation must have taught that certain crops will thrive only under certain more or less narrowly defined conditions of soil, season, and climate. How far the early agricultural knowledge was due to chance observation, and how far to direct experiment, we shall never know. Even in the Stone Age much agricultural knowledge had been accumulated, for both wheat and barley occur in those interesting pile dwellings, the remains of the villages of the neolithic lake-dwellers of Switzerland.
Chemistry may still be defined as the study, in the widest sense, of the properties of substances, and the foundations upon which modern chemistry has risen must have been laid in a period of remote antiquity. The pursuit of the discovery of the philosopher's stone and of the elixir vitae made alchemists and iatro-chemists acquainted with the properties of substances which otherwise might have been ignored, and even the art of the poisoner must have extended knowledge in a like direction.
Illuminating as is the study of the old-time knowledge, it seems to teach that the principles of scientific inquiry were understood by very few of the ancient observers. Such ingrained ideas as that astronomy is inseparable from astrology, or chemistry from witchcraft, or, again, that nature's riddles may be solved by ingenious argument without appeal to observation or experiment, militated greatly against the development of accurate knowledge. Only after the arrival of that indefinite period of transition known as the Renaissance would it appear that the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake became common—or, indeed, that such pursuit was regarded as legitimate. Even amongst civilized peoples of the present day the proportion of persons who show any real desire to learn more of the laws of nature than is already known is not very large, and the announcement of some important discovery in physics, chemistry, or biology receives but little notice from the general public. It may be that the desire for knowledge is latent in every human being, but that owing to our so-called civilization, or to some failure in our systems of education, the smouldering fire is seldom fanned into burning flame. Possibly the extension of those very clever researches in education which have been so energetically carried out in America during recent years may show us how to make every pupil interested in at least one branch of knowledge, and thus materially change the attitude of the public towards science and scientific research.
The sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries provided an ever-increasing number of intellectual workers prepared to devote time and labour to exact scientific investigation. The idea of quantitative measurement became more general; new instruments were invented, such as the microscope and telescope, the thermometer and barometer, and these assisted greatly in further discovery and in the elaboration of a new technique. The establishment of botanic gardens assisted and stimulated the systematic study of plants. The seventeenth century saw the foundation of the Royal Society of London, and of the Academies of Science in Rome, Florence, Paris, and Berlin. This period also marked the trumphs of William Harvey, Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Descartes, Huygens, Malpighi, and Leeuwenhoek.
The eighteenth century was very prolific not only in scientific discovery, but also in its technical applications. Linnaeus and de Jussieu published their botanical systems; John Hunter raised surgery to the rank of a scientific profession; James Hutton founded the science of geology, Werner and William Smith the cognate science of palaeontology; Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen and ammonia, whilst Scheele, the brilliant Swedish apothecary, prepared chlorine and glycerine, citric, tartaric, oxalic, lactic, prussic, and uric acids; Henry Cavendish showed the chemical nature of water, and determined the mass of the earth; Lavoisier explained clearly the nature of combustion; John Robison and Volta observed the phenomenon of the electric current, and William Nicholson that of electrolysis.
Amongst the technical applications of this period John Roebuck and Le Blanc respectively established the manufacture of sulphuric acid and soda, the key industries of the heavy chemical trade. James Watt revolutionized all manufactures by giving a practical form to the steam-engine
and placing the theory of this prime mover upon a sound basis. The general adoption of steam-power necessitated a great increase in the number of skilled mechanics, and thus facilitated the production of all kinds of scientific instruments. In 1798 William Murdoch erected the first gasworks; by the end of the next century the capital invested in gas undertakings in the United Kingdom represented a sum of more than £100,000,000.
Of the achievements of science during the nineteenth century I shall say little—the subject is too vast to allow of any survey to-night. I would, however, point out that whereas at the beginning of the period there were no schools or universities in Great Britain at which provision was made for the practical study of the sciences, there are now but few secondary schools in the Empire at which experimental science in some form is not taught. The University of Cambridge introduced an honours examination in the sciences in 1851, and there were nine successful candidates, of whom one, my old master, Professor Liveing, is still a distinguished member of the University. In 1900 there were 136 successful candidates for this examination, and at the present day the “Natural Sciences Tripos” is the largest of the Cambridge honours schools.
Before any experimental research is commenced, a careful study and verification should be made of the statements due to earlier investigators. First of all the latest text-books are consulted—and I regret to say that generally they do not give much help. Then a systematic research is made amongst the original papers published in the scientific journals throughout the world. The neglect of this study and checking of the work of previous authors has caused much delay in the progress of science, and has led to much waste of time in work upon problems which had already been elucidated. I would remind you that the fundamental law of chemical action discovered by the Norwegian investigators Guldberg and Waage was overlooked for more than twenty years; Mendel's discoveries with regard to heredity remained unknown for thirty-five years; whilst Cavendish's experiment indicating the presence in the atmosphere of the inert gases now known as the Argon group was unnoticed or forgotten for more than a century.
Investigators are therefore greatly handicapped if unable to consult a well-equipped and properly catalogued library containing complete sets of the most important British and foreign scientific journals. There is at present no efficient library of this type in New Zealand, and one of our greatest needs is the provision of such a central library, specially arranged for convenience of consultation, and from which, under suitable safeguards, books could be posted to investigators in other parts of New Zealand. The difficulty of equipping such a library will obviously increase year by year, since the demand for the back numbers of scientific journals increases annually, and every new American and European university endeavours to secure an efficient reference library.
To the workers in the biological sciences good museums are also essential, and I must add my protest to that of former Presidents of this Institute who have pointed out the negligence—in my opinion, criminal negligence—of successive Governments in not providing suitable accommodation for the irreplaceable collections at present buried in the ancient and inadequate wooden buildings of the Dominion Museum in Wellington.
Research consists essentially of the collection of facts, the arranging of these in order, and the arriving at deductions from the statistics thus collected and arranged. It is true that in one science the actual methods adopted may be—in fact, must be—very different from those employed in some other science. Thus in zoology the facts are arrived at by such
methods as the observation of animals in their natural habitats, the dissection of animals, the study of their embryology, and the examination of the histological characters of animal tissues; whereas in chemistry research consists largely of the preparation of new compounds, the determination of their composition, physical constants, and other properties, and the study of the nature of the changes which occur when substances are brought into contact under different physical conditions. When sufficient facts have been collected it becomes possible for some generalization to take place, the accuracy of which can be tested by further experiments suggested by the generalization. This generalization we call a “theory” or “hypothesis,” and if all deductions based upon the hypothesis are found to be in accordance with fact the theory is accepted as a general guide for future work until facts are discovered which force upon us the rejection or modification of the theory. A theory is thus to the scientific experimenter what a map is to the explorer. If the map is wrongly drawn the explorer will soon find himself in difficulties. If the errors are only small the map will be of use as a sketch-map, but the explorer will learn not to rely upon it for points of detail. So also an hypothesis, which is the incomplete expression of a sound principle, may be of considerable use, in that it will indicate much which would not be foreseen without it. Eventually, however, it will be found wanting, since it is not a strictly true representation, but only allows us to “see as through a glass, darkly.” Again, just as a correct map may be misinterpreted, so also a strictly accurate hypothesis may through unsound reasoning lead to deductions which are quite unwarranted. Theories, then, are of great practical utility; indeed, rapid practical development usually follows each great advance in theoretical conception.
It is obvious that research work may be undertaken either from a desire for knowledge itself or in order that the knowledge may be turned to some economic use. Research undertaken with the latter object is commonly spoken of as “technical research,” and undoubtedly its prosecution is looked upon by the public with far more sympathy than is the research based upon a desire for knowledge alone. Whilst not deprecating in any way the technical application of scientific knowledge, I believe that the view of the public, that technical research is of more importance than research carried out with the object of increasing our knowledge of the laws of nature, is fundamentally wrong, for it cannot be too strongly emphasized that in every science the greatest advances which have been made, and which have led ultimately to the most important technical developments, have usually been those which were carried out by seekers after truth with regard to the laws of nature, and not to those who expected commercial returns from their investigations. On the other hand, I would enter my protest against the views of those who scoff at their fellow-workers when attempting to apply scientific knowledge to commercial development and to the benefiting of mankind. It has been my privilege to study under some of the greatest scientific thinkers in Great Britain and on the Continent of Europe, and I can say that, though most of these men devoted their labours to the elucidation of nature's laws, they were ever ready to take an interest in the application of their discoveries to useful ends, and to encourage their students to accept positions in which scientific knowledge could be applied to the solution of the problems of the factory and the workshop. No greater example of this can be quoted than that of the late Emil Fischer, whose death in 1919 caused sorrow in all scientific circles. Though the first of the so-called aniline dyes was prepared by William Henry Perkin in 1856, the real chemical nature of these substances remained a mystery until Fischer unravelled the tangled skein in 1878,
after which he was offered a very lucrative post as director of research in one of the most important of the German aniline-dye factories. This offer he refused, preferring the small salary of a university professor and the control of a school of scientific research. It is interesting to note that researches on coal-tar colours no longer occupied his attention, but that the remainder of his life was chiefly devoted to the study of substances playing an important part in animal and vegetable physiological processes. His next achievement was the placing of the uric-acid group upon a satisfactory basis; for, though uric acid had been discovered so long ago as 1770 by the great Swedish chemist Scheele, the number of its later-prepared derivatives being legion, and though many facts concerning the group were known, the key had yet to be found before the relationship between these substances could be understood. From uric acid Fischer passed to the sugar group, then to the proteins, and lastly to the tannins. The story was the same in each case. These four groups are of immense importance in the chemistry of the plant and animal kingdoms. In each case confusion reigned supreme before the group was investigated and brought into an orderly system by the great investigator. No one could accuse Fischer of the degradation of chemical research by turning his great talents to mere commercial problems; and yet I do not think I have ever met a man who more acutely realized the value of technical research for the people. He was always sympathetic with the manufacturer, and large numbers of his students found occupation as research chemists in the great chemical factories of the world. During the war his energies were naturally largely devoted to war problems. He warned the Westphalian manufacturers of the inefficiency of the steps they were taking in the matter of nitrogenous products for high explosives, and was rebuffed by the military authorities. At his instigation a Food Commission was established in Germany, and he fearlessly warned the authorities that military victory was of less importance than the health of the people, which could not be maintained with the inadequate food-supplies. I instance Fischer because he was the greatest organic chemist of his age, but all other great investigators whom I have known have shown a similar attitude towards the technical applications of science.
My own opinion is that it is impossible to differentiate sharply between pure and applied science. He who works out the life-history of a minute insect or obscure plant is adding to our store of entomological or botanical knowledge. He may, however, be throwing light, though unwittingly, upon some great agricultural problem. Are we to consider that the science is “pure” if no immediate economic result follows, and “applied” if our discovery turns out to be of economic importance? Michael Faraday cannot have conceived of the technical importance of his investigations when he succeeded in the liquefying of gases, or when he discovered benzene, or when he enunciated the laws of electrolysis, or even when he discovered the remarkable phenomena of electro-magnetic induction. Yet upon each of these discoveries not one but many great industries have been founded.
Training in the methods of pure science is regarded by many eminent technologists as the best foundation for technical practice. I would remind you that the detection of the German guns on the western front, and their accurate location before the great advance of 1918, was due to the application of his electrical knowledge by a young Cambridge graduate of Australian birth, whose research work up to the time of the war was of a strictly scientific character.
For the progress of science in New Zealand there is great need for a strong spirit of research to permeate the community. In every trade, in every profession, in our social relationships and religious questionings, a more burning desire for knowledge of the whole truth is required.
It is a matter for regret that such a small proportion of the students entering our University colleges become investigators. If we attempt to assess the blame, I do not think we can put any considerable portion of it upon the professors, for in general a professor of science has his time so fully taken up that it is only by extraordinary effort that he can himself get any serious amount of research work done. Yet experience shows that only those teaching institutions become important centres of research activity in which the professors are devoting their main interest to scientific inquiry, and the direction of such inquiry on the part of their students. One contributing cause in some of our University colleges is that too much of the instruction is given in the evening, with the philanthropic object of enabling those who are working by day to receive instruction outside of working-hours. Excellent as this practice is from one point of view, it is not in the interests of national efficiency, and it appears to be based upon the supposition that it is more important to give opportunities to all than that it is of the greatest importance to the State to have in the community a supply of highly trained scholars. “These things ought ye to have done and not to have left the other undone” is a maxim as true to-day as when it was first spoken.
A point which I should like to stress is that we have great need at the present day for investigators who can carry on researches in the borderland between the different sciences. How seldom we meet a biologist who can understand the researches of a chemist, or a chemist who similarly can appreciate the work of a biologist! Yet there is an immense amount of work to be done in the borderland between chemistry and biology, and for this work to be successful the investigator's theoretical and practical knowledge of both of these sciences must be of a very high order. Distinguished physiologists have assured me that the greatest hindrance to research in their departments was the fact that so few of the students desiring to carry out research had attained facility in the technique of the chemical laboratory, and that familiarity with theoretical chemistry which allows of the thinking without effort in terms of chemical phenomena. I believe that all great investigators now recognize that it is impossible for any one science to stand alone, and the difficulty which faces the educator in scientific subjects is to combine breadth of outlook with specialized knowledge in the short period which can be given to a student's training. Several solutions of this difficult problem have been suggested. One is that an effort should be made to teach each subject more rapidly, by eliminating all unnecessary detail. From the examination point of view this system might be perfect, but I have great doubts as to whether the hastening-up of the acquiring of scientific knowledge by such a method can be effected satisfactorily. Time is essential for the absorption of ideas, and if the ideas are to take root and be fruitful of results the student must regard each principle from a large number of standpoints. He must discuss it with his fellow-students, and he must perform many experiments. Having made this criticism, I suggest that it would be of great interest if the teachers of some one science were to agree to carry out a series of experiments extending over several years, and checked by a constant comparison of observations, in order to ascertain the quickest way in which
that science could be taught effectively. I am not certain that either the students or the Councils of the University colleges would welcome a research on the lines which I have suggested.
A second suggestion which has been made is that a longer course of study should be demanded from those who proceed to a science degree in the University. A change of this kind has been made in medicine, the length of study having been lengthened from four to five and then from five to six years. Obvious objections to such a course are the greatly increased expense to the student, and the fact that so many of those who work for a science degree do not intend to become scientific specialists, being satisfied to attain the comparatively low standard demanded of the science master in the secondary school. If there were more openings in this country for well-trained scientific men there is little doubt that many students would be prepared to undergo a longer and more intensive period of training.
Still another suggestion which has been made is that more attention should be paid to the teaching of science in the secondary schools. In some of the schools in New Zealand the science teaching is well done; in others, however, it is certain that the subject receives the “cold shoulder.” With the large number of subjects which enter into the secondary-school curriculum, it could only be by very careful organization and excellent teaching that the average boy could obtain such a grounding in science as would allow him to hasten through the University course of instruction with greater rapidity than is the case at present.
No institution has done as much as the New Zealand Institute for the encouragement of scientific research in this Dominion. Established in 1867 by an Act of the General Assembly, the Institute bound together the philosophical societies already in existence in different parts of New Zealand. The preamble of the Act states that it is expedient to promote the general study and cultivation of the various branches and departments of science, literature, and philosophy—in other words, to encourage the advancement of every branch of knowledge. The first volume of the Transactions of the Institute was published in May, 1869, and contained articles on geology, ethnology, chemistry, zoology, geography, and engineering; such practical subjects as gold-extraction, the preparation of New Zealand flax, the smelting of Taranaki ironsand, and experiments with hydraulic mortar are amongst the articles; so that, as at the present day the philosophers of that time interested themselves with subjects of both theoretical and practical importance. I trust that this interweaving of science with practice will always continue amongst the scientific men of this Dominion. I am glad to be able to tell you that though for fifty years the Government grant to the Institute remained at £500 it has this year, on the recommendation of Sir Francis Bell, been increased to twice that sum. Unfortunately, the cost of printing the Transactions has increased in almost equal proportion, so that the balance left for work in other directions is still small.
The New Zealand Institute exists, then, mainly for the encouragement of scientific investigation; and the medium which the Transactions of the Institute provide for publishing the results of scientific observations has done much to stimulate those who, without this encouragement, would never have gone on with their researches. The Institute has lost no opportunity of placing before Cabinet, and other authorities, the need for some definite policy in connection with research work in New Zealand.
Until a few years ago no help could be obtained for the financing of any researches in this country. On the representation of the Institute a research grant of £250 was in 1917 placed on the estimates by the Hon. G. W. Russell. This amount is now increased to £2,000, but is small in comparison with the large quantity of work which ought to be carried out. During the war the Institute conferred with a number of bodies interested and drew up a scheme for the advancement of scientific and industrial research. After slight modification by the Efficiency Board, the proposals were forwarded by the Chairman of that body to Cabinet with a very strong endorsement I understand also that the general principles of this scheme were approved in the report of the Industries Commission; but effect has not yet been given to the recommendations, which involved an annual expenditure of some £20,000 for the first five years. I know that the matter has received the sympathetic attention of the Minister of Internal Affairs and of the Minister of Education, and that other members of Cabinet recognize the importance of taking action in this matter. New Zealand spends half a million annually on national defence—it is a wise insurance-premium against attack from our enemies. Would it not be wise to also spend one-tenth of this sum annually on research as an insurance against disaster due to ignorance? None of the money spent on defence can be revenue-producing, but funds spent upon a wisely-directed scheme of scientific and industrial research could not fail to increase the efficiency of our primary and secondary industries, to develop our natural resources, and to add to our national wealth and prosperity. I see little hope of removing the crushing financial burden left by the war unless a determined attempt is made to ascertain the extent of our resources and to develop them upon the practical lines indicated by scientific investigation.
I trust that an efficient national research scheme will soon be agreed to by Parliament, that no attempt will be made to differentiate between the claims of pure and applied science, and that provision will be made—
For the encouragement of research in all the scientific Departments of the Government; for I am certain that, great as are the results that have been accomplished by those Departments, still more would have been achieved if, in the Departments concerned, a number of scientific men had been employed whose time was given entirely to the solving of problems, men who were completely freed from ordinary routine work. It is, I think, quite evident that a scientific officer whose time is almost wholly taken up with routine work, and who attempts research work during the time when the pressure of the routine work slackens, can have but little chance of giving such an amount of thought and concentration to the problems as will ensure a high standard of efficiency. The economic results which would be obtained if really first-class investigators were employed in the way which I have mentioned would far more than justify the expense which would be involved.
For enabling the University colleges to become real living centres of research activity. Indeed, I should be glad to see the carrying-out of research work regarded as the most important duty of a University professor. This would involve the giving of more assistance to him in his teaching, and the better equipping of the college laboratories.
For providing facilities for research in every institution in which problems are being seriously attacked. Such institutions should receive sympathetic and from the State. The Fish-hatchery at Portobello, in which investigations are being carried on with the object of conserving and improving the supply of fish for the whole of New Zealand, is an institution which is worthy of much help. The Cawthron Institute, too, in which researches are carried out on such technical subjects as soil-chemistry, the diseases of crops, the control of insect pests, and the utilization of waste products, could not in fairness be overlooked.
For the continuing of the present system of grants to private workers, a class which has contributed a very large proportion of the scientific papers published in the Transactions of the Institute.
I am of the opinion that a very grave mistake will be made if in any general scheme for research the New Zealand Institute, which for so many years has devoted its attention to this problem, is not given a place of great prominence.
One fact which greatly militates against the advancement of science in New Zealand and the production of a continuous output of expert research work is the lack of employment for qualified graduates when they leave the University. One of the most admirable points in the New Zealand University system is that for a candidate to obtain honours in any science he must, in addition to the examination, present a thesis containing the result of his own original work. The obtaining of the M.Sc. degree, then, is to some extent a guarantee that the science graduate has reached the research standard, and I can certify that the work which has been presented by many of the candidates in chemistry has been very good indeed. When, however, the graduate leaves the University he generally finds it difficult to obtain in New Zealand a position in which his advanced knowledge can be employed, and the more enterprising amongst these men leave the country, and, as a rule, do not return. No community can afford to lose a large proportion of its best talent, and it is little consolation to know that many of these men are now holding positions of distinction in England, India, America, and Australia. I am sure you will be pleased to know that all the professors of chemistry in New Zealand are University graduates who have returned to their native land after post-graduate study in England or on the Continent of Europe. Although we can scarcely hope to retain the most brilliant of our graduates—men of the calibre of R. C. Maclaurin and Ernest Rutherford—nevertheless many would return to New Zealand if some systematic attempt were made to provide suitable employment for them. It would, I believe, be in the interests of the whole country if a certain number of Civil Service appointments were made annually of honours graduates, who would be attached to specified Departments as research officers, and who would carry out investigations under the direction of the scientific head of the Department. A condition of these appointments should be that the officers must not be called away to do ordinary routine work when the Department became short-handed, but that they should devote themselves to the researches which they were undertaking, and to no other work. In agriculture alone there must be many problems which could be worked out under the direction of the Dominion Agricultural Chemist or Biologist. The Dominion Analyst, too, could, I am sure, find important researches for a number of these investigators. If these officers proved efficient, facilities should be given for them to rise to positions of high salaries, for their work for the nation would be of extraordinary value. Difficulties would no doubt be met in establishing such a scheme, but I am convinced that if the scheme were properly organized
great results would follow. Something has already been done by the Civil Service Commissioners in insisting that the cadets in the scientific Departments shall attend University classes at the expense of the State, and that their grading shall to some extent be influenced by the progress which they show in their University work. Some of these men are already showing great promise of becoming investigators and I do not doubt that the system will give great opportunities to many cadets who would otherwise have little chance of securing a sound scientific education. One great advantage of the system is that, since these young men are mostly taking the full B.Sc. course, which involves the study of four sciences and the acquisition of a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language, they are obtaining a far greater breadth of outlook than could otherwise be the case.
Science during the last two hundred years has revolutionized the state of our knowledge. It has contributed more than any other factor to our material wealth. It has shown us the nature of disease, and has placed in our hands in large measure the means whereby disease can be combated. The scientific discoveries of Mendel are of far-reaching importance. They have widened our ideas of the origin of species, and their practical applications have produced results of great value to agriculture. Dalton's introduction of the chemical, in contradistinction to the metaphysical, conception of the atom formed the basis upon which the magnificent edifice of nineteenth-century science was based. The idea of a spatial arrangement of atoms hinted at by Wollaston and formally enunciated by Le Bel and Van't Hoff as an outcome of Pasteur's researches on asymmetry opened up a new science of stereo-chemistry, the importance of which to modern physiology is becoming daily more apparent. The new sciences of radio-chemistry and physics have shown, through the work of Bragg and Rutherford, not only how the atoms are arranged in crystalline substances, but also the structure of the atoms themselves. Can we doubt that the practical outcome of these investigations will be a harvest as important as that which followed the implanting of the Daltonian idea? The application of mathematics to the simple electrical ideas of Faraday has opened to us, through Clerk Maxwell and his successors, an almost limitless field of work for the physicist and electrical technologist, and wireless telegraphy is but one outcome of Maxwell's conceptions.
The race for the future must be largely a race for the acquisition from nature of her many secrets. Are we in this country to take our fair share in the work, or shall we wait for it to be done elsewhere, in the hope that we may benefit by the labours of other nations, without ourselves taking part in the necessary sacrifice? If this latter niggardly attitude is to be assumed, we must, as a nation, expect to sink into obscurity. New Zealand's problems should be attacked by New-Zealanders, and the work must be carried out in New Zealand and not in other countries. I emphasize this point, for the absurd view has been put forward that our scientific problems should be attacked for us by non-resident scientists. Such men could have little understanding of the nature and environment of our difficulties compared with that which would inspire our own investigators. Their results could not appeal to us in the same way as research carried out in our own forests, fields, and laboratories. Questions occasionally arise for the answering of which the help of outside specialists must be called, but this is no argument in favour of refusing to adopt a self-reliant policy and to undertake the solution of our own problems. In no spirit of narrowness I appeal for active support and sympathy on behalf of the scientific workers of New Zealand, knowing well that national progress will be influenced deeply by the extent to which this sympathy and support are given or withheld.