Scientists Look Towards the Future.
Presidential Address To The Royal Society Of New Zealand
An outstanding feature in the progress of science during the last year has been the holding of a series of conferences and investigations, both in Britain and the United States of America, to explore the avenues along which scientific research is needed, to discover means of increasing the efficiency of scientists by enabling them the more often to meet for personal consultation, and to secure the widest distribution and exchange of information. It was felt also that the personal links formed between scientists in different countries might foster the spirit of international co-operation, and lessen the risk of future strife. It seems appropriate, therefore, to take this occasion to summarise some of the main results of these important discussions, and to outline the circumstances under which they were undertaken. Warm thanks must be expressed to those who so ably represented our Society and Dominion at these conferences, and to whom I am indebted or the opportunity of studying many documents, without which it would have been impossible to prepare this address.
But before proceeding to my main subject, I must express, on behalf of the Council of the Royal Society, our sense of loss in the death of the late Professor James Park, who, for twelve years, represented the Otago Branch on our Council. He arrived in New Zealand over seventy years ago, was for ten years a member of the Geological Survey, for a like period Director of the Thames School of Mines, and for thirty years Director of the Otago University School of Mines. He was a prolific writer on many subjects, the author of nearly fifty papers published in our Transactions, of numerous official geological reports and bulletins, and of several widely-used text books on geology and on various aspects of mining engineering. His opinion as a consultant on mining matters was widely sought. His long and distinguished life reached its climax when, a few weeks before he passed away, he had the joy of seeing once more his famous son, Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park, the defender of Malta.
Through the death of Sir James Jeans, our Society has lost a very distinguished Honorary Member, one of the foremost scientists of our time. The author of classical investigations on cosmogony, the dynamics of stellar evolution and allied subjects, he was also able to make as clear as possible to the general reader the philosophical significance of these recondite studies, and through a series of fascinating books, such as “The Universe Around Us,” “The New Background of Science,” and others, afforded widely available opportunities for gaining some appreciation of fundamental conceptions of modern science.
I am glad to express our pleasure in the honours bestowed on two of our members, delegates to the recent Science Conferences, namely, the election of Dr. E. Marsden to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of London, and the knighthood bestowed upon Sir Charles Hercus. We are indebted to Dr. Marsden, as Secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, for his zeal in the advancement of science in general, and for the organisation and encouragement of the very large amount of most valuable investigation carried out by officers of his Department. Sir Charles Hercus adds to his onerous responsibilities as Dean and Professor of Bacteriology and Public Health in the Medical School in Otago an active and constructive interest in many other avenues of work for the public welfare.
It is necessary to preface an account of the recent scientific conferences in Britain by reference to certain earlier events and their outcome. The importance of the development of the applied sciences during the early stages of the last Great War became so evident that two distinguished physicists, in a memorial sent to the Royal Society of London in 1941, expressed the fear that developments in fundamental physics might be relatively neglected in comparison with applied physics. They pointed out that since it was no longer possible to leave the development of fundamental physics to the local initiative of various universities, some guidance on major matters of policy was essential, if the case for increased resources was to be put adequately before the relevant government authorities. Accordingly, committees were set up by the Royal Society to consider what would be the needs for research in fundamental science after the war in such subjects (other than mathematics) as come within that Society's purview, and a general statement of their findings was published in 1944.(1) This was concerned with training in research and research done within British universities. Distinguishing between “ordinary” expenditure on research (to be met in general out of departmental funds and maintenance grants), and “extraordinary” expenditure required by new and expensive fields of research and unexpected developments (to be met by special parliamentary grants), the Royal Society advised that the financing of research in universities should be either through the British University Grants Committee, or through responsible government departments. It favoured a scheme whereby each block of funds granted to a university should include a sum earmarked for maintenance grants for students training for research, it being left to each university to decide for itself the allocation of these grants. Though the Council of the Royal Society did not make a specific recommendation, it published the reports of its several committees, most of which advocated that all honours graduates recommended by heads of departments should receive fees and maintenance grants up to £225 per year throughout the three years of post-graduate research work required for the Ph.D. degree. In the four main groups of sciences considered, namely Physics, Chemistry, Geology, and Biology with Bio-chemistry, it recommended an increase of the average annual pre-war expenditure on general purposes and equipment as totalled for all British universities (£366,000) to a post-war figure of £1,000,000, and also that the total
amount, derivable from all sources, for the provision of maintenance grants for students training for research and for Research Fellowships for more senior workers should be increased from a pre-war average annual total of about £192,000 to a post-war figure of about £632,000, with an approximate doubling of the number of recipients in each class. There would need to be a concomitant increase of the technical staffs of laboratories involving a rise of average annual expenditure for their salaries from £75,000 to £175.000.*
It was made clear that these estimates made no allowance for the increase of teaching staffs and building accommodation that would be necessitated by expansion of the order contemplated, nor for any “extraordinary” expenditure on research as defined above. Moreover, the Royal Society did not consider the increase of expenditure which would be required for post-war research in other university subjects such as Medicine, Engineering, and Agriculture, or those which were investigated by the officers of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and other government scientific services.
The immediate response to the Royal Society's report was the announcement of a scheme for providing an indefinite number of maintenance grants to research workers and students “designed to meet the need for a larger number of trained scientific investigators for industrial research and Government research.”(2) These comprise (statement abbreviated):—
Maintenance allowances tenable for two years granted to qualified students possessing an Honours degree to enable them to undergo training in research in fundamental science. These amount annually to £180 with fees and additional residential grants up to £80.
[Footnote] * The details of these estimates have been summarised in the following tables compiled from statistics given. (1)
[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]
|Subject.||Average Pre-War Annual Expenditur.||Recommended Post-War Expenditure.|
|Biology and Biochemistry||67,700||18,300||174,500||40,500|
[Footnote] Maintenance grants for Research students in training and Fellowships for Senior Research workers come in part from private endowment and in part from public funds.
[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]
|Subject.||Maintenance Grants.||Senior Fellowships.|
|No.||Total Cost.||No.||Total Cost.||No.||Total Cost.||No.||Total Cost.|
|Biology and Biochemistry||270||£32,000||390||£94,000||34||£10,000||90||£54,000|
[Footnote] It should be noted that the requirements of post-war expenditure were estimated in 1944 and had to be made on the assumption that money would retain its purchasing value unchanged. Accordingly all the estimated cost of post-war requirements will: have to be increased to compensate for the fall in the purchasing power of money.
Senior research awards granted to scientists under twenty-seven years old, tenable for two or possibly three years and amounting to £400 with fees.
Grants for development of special researches as may be required.
Following on this there was appointed a Parliamentary and Scientific Committee to “consider the policies which should govern the use and development of scientific man-power and resources in Britain during the next ten years,” which forwarded to Parliament in May, 1946, a report, so rich in practical suggestions that it will be of great value to those responsible for considering similar matters in this country.(3, 4)
It “sets a target” of 100,000 qualified scientific workers by 1955, and emphasises that the increase in the number of scientific graduates should be balanced by an increase in the number of students of the humanities. The most obvious difficulty in such expansion is that of providing sufficient and well-qualified teaching and research staffs, and this will restrict the advance of the universities till 1949–50, when it should be possible to double the annual intake of students. It was recognised that University teachers are already overworked, that any increase in the number of students must be accompanied by at least as large an increase of teaching staff, and that, to induce suitable scientists to join such staffs, the conditions of work must be made sufficiently attractive. Further, there must be not only an investigation of the total requirements of different callings needing trained scientists so as to secure an adjustment of supply and demand, but also the institution of a system of appointment-priorities to ensure that expansion of university staffs is not frustrated by the diversion into the civil service, official or industrial, of graduates best fitted for university teaching.
It was recommended that during the reconstruction period only and subject to constant review, the order of priority in the use of available scientists should be:
Teaching and fundamental research.
Civil service, both Government and industrial.
It emphasised that scientific advancement should proceed simultaneously both in the basic and applied fields and that, since the university will supply the major part of the basic science, a generous and immediate endowment of the research schools of the universities in equipment, technical staff, and general research facilities is essential. The report, moreover, directs attention to the importance of providing additional accommodation for the expanding of academic work. Hostel accommodation has also to be considered in the same connection. Finally, it urges that, so far as possible, no young person of requisite ability should be prevented by financial considerations from participating in these increased facilities for university education. *
[Footnote] * The practical problems involved in implementing the recommendations of this Parliamentary Committee have been discussed in a publication issued by the Committee of the Vice-Chancellors and Principals of British Universities, for a copy of which I am indebted to Dr. R. E. Priestley, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham. (A Note on University Policy and Finance in the Decenium 1947–1956, by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. C. F. Hodgson and Son, Ltd., London, 1946. An abstract of this Note and comment thereon appeared in Nature, Vol. 158, for April 12, 1947.)
These investigations formed the background of the scientific conferences held in London, Oxford, and Cambridge in June and July, 1946. The Royal Society's conference had been suggested first in 1941, and the scheme was elaborated in 1943. The Government in 1944 approved of the proposal, invited the Royal Society to organise it, and in 1945 set aside £15,000 to cover the necessary expenses.
The first draft of the programme was circulated for comment among leading scientists throughout the Empire in November, 1945, and finally determined in March-April, 1946. About two hundred representative scientists from all parts of the Empire met with the selected group of British scientists. Our Society, University, and Dominion were well represented by a delegation under the leadership of Dr. E. Marsden, F.R.S., with whom were associated Sir Charles Hercus, Sir Theodore Rigg, and Professor F. G. Soper, who between them brought to the deliberations of the conference an intimate knowledge of a very wide field of scientific work within New Zealand.
A large number of printed summaries of the circumstances and views concerning special problems were prepared by authorities throughout the British Commonwealth, and the gist of those dealing with any broad topic was presented by the leader of the discussion in the section of the conference dealing with that topic. Arising out of such discussions, resolutions were drawn up or recommendations made as to the needs of fundamental research in various directions such as radio and cosmic rays, methods of exploration and mapping by air, meteorology and climatology, oceanography, fisheries, land utilisation, and agricultural science, nutrition and public health. The need for greater uniformity in physical standards and methods of measurement was recognised, and, in particular, the very serious shortage of biological scientists in many parts of the Commonwealth. Attention was given to the need of improvement of scientific information services, and of means for facilitating personal contacts and movement among scientists throughout Britain, the dominions, and colonies. The resolutions and recommendations on these and other topics were passed on to the Official Conference for further consideration.(5)
The terms of reference of this second conference were “to consider the best means of ensuring the fullest possible collaboration between civil government scientific organisations of the Commonwealth and to make formal recommendations for the approval of the Governments represented.” Sir Edward Appleton, Secretary of the British Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, presided over the conference, and in his opening address declared that it is the duty of official scientists to do all they can when it becomes necessary to convince our governments of the importance of proposals for the extension of facilities for independent fundamental objective research * within universities as well as applied research in industry.(6, p 15)
[Footnote] * Sir E. Appleton elsewhere(7) defined objective fundamental research as research “designed to give insight and understanding rather than any immediate practical result. It is called objective because it is relevant to some field of practical importance. This distinguishes it from free fundamental research carried out for the purpose of extending the endless frontiers of knowledge… without regard to any immediate or future useful application” or, on the other hand applied research, i.e. that which is directed towards obtaining results of practical importance. “There is, however, no sharp differentiation between the three types of research.”
The Royal Society's conference, he said, showed the importance of small university research units (consisting of a professor, lecturers, and research students) as spear-heads in scientific progress, and every-one would agree with that view. But there are problems requiring a large scale attack which can be undertaken only by official scientists working under government organisations. “The proper balance between university research and research under government auspices is a matter each nation must determine according to its own requirements.”(6, p. 16)
One of the New Zealand delegates summarised the general opinion at this conference as being “that it is a matter of national policy that objective fundamental research should be done in universities and special departments, whether governmental or private, rather than what were termed ‘user’ departments, i.e., those devoted to immediate practical problems. It was regarded as unwise to link research too closely to immediate practical problems.”(8)
Out of a long series of recommendations approved by the Official Conference we need note, in addition to those sent up by the earlier conference which we have already mentioned, others concerning the need for more co-ordinated surveys of mineral resources throughout the Commonwealth, and further researches in fuels and building. But of special importance were recommendations designed to secure the greatest amount of interchange of members of the staffs of research organisations in universities and government departments within the Commonwealth, by the establishment of Research Fellowships, by co-ordination and accrediting between universities in regard to advanced degrees, and by appropriate arrangements concerning remuneration, retention of pension rights, and other relevant financial considerations involved in the travelling or exchange of such scientists.
The setting up of a Standing Committee of the Official Conference was advocated, and a definition put forward for the organisation and function of scientific liaison offices. The continuance was recommended of the British Commonwealth Scientific Office in Washington, in which several dominion governments, our own among them, are represented by scientific liaison officers. The establishment in London of another office operating on the same very satisfactory lines as that in Washington was favoured, and there were “noted with interest” “…plans proposed by the Government of the United Kingdom for scientific representation in certain specified foreign countries and regions inviting the attention of other governments and scientific organisations concerned to such with a view to any practicable collaboration.”
The meetings of the National Academy of Science and the American Philosophical Society, held in Washington in October, 1946, were converted into international scientific conferences by the generous request issued conjointly by these bodies to scientific societies throughout the world, that they should each nominate a representative who should be invited to attend the meetings as a guest of the two scientific bodies. Our Royal Society and Dominion was represented by Professor R. S. Allan, President of the Canterbury Branch of our Society. There is no need to refer in any detail to the work of those confer-
ences, for it was with great pleasure that we heard yesterday Professor Allan's account, not only of those meetings, but also of the opportunities for making friendships, for travel, and much other valuable experience made possible by his generous hosts. *
In April, 1946, six months prior to these meetings, the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia had devoted one of its sessions to a study of the American approach in past years towards collaboration with international scientific organisations, and in particular to emphasising the extreme importance of active collaboration with the newly-instituted United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). I shall refer a little later to certain aspects of the discussions in those April meetings.(9) Meantime, we shall note briefly the work of the meeting of UNESCO itself in Paris during November and December, 1946. The representative of science in New Zealand was Dr. Falla, Director of Canterbury Museum, whose account of the meetings we shall hear to-morrow. With him were Dr. Beeby, Director of Education, and Miss Lorna McPhee. As this was the first general gathering of the representatives of governments constituting the organisation, it concerned itself chiefly with establishing priorities for definite subjects in the short-term plans, initiating studies in the long-term field, and determining a general mode of procedure. On the educational side, plans were made for investigating what is required for the rehabilitation of all grades of tuition in devastated lands, for the combating of illiteracy, and for a survey of current school books, especially in history, to bring to attention any distortion of fact that may have a harmful effect in the growth of international harmony. On the science side, arrangements were made also to co-operate with the International Union of Scientific Societies in the restarting of scientific journals the publication of which had been interrupted by the war, to organise teams of experts in nutritional science and food technology, to investigate and alleviate conditions in regions suffering from malnutrition, especially in India, the Lower Amazon, China, and, if possible, Africa, and to try to spread knowledge of scientific discoveries which may bear on international and social relations, by means of travelling scientific collections and the activities of travelling lecturers.(10 a, b) †
Such, then, is a sketch of some of the discussions by forwardlooking scientists during recent years in which representatives of New Zealand have taken an active part. What aspects of the organisation
[Footnote] * A number of the papers read at these meetings dealing with America's role in the growth of science, present trends and international implications of science and problems of international co-operation in science appear in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 91, No. 1, published on February 25, 1947.
[Footnote] † UNESCO—Natural Sciences Division.—The funds of this division have been roughly allocated (in U.S. dollars) as follows for 1947: Personnel, 146,500; International Conferences, 150,000; Studies and Surveys, 70,000; Publications and Productions, 50,000; Grants-in-aid, 400.000; Consultation and Field Services, 200,000; Exchanges, Fellowships, 100,000. During 1947 immediate action will be taken on (1) reparations in the form of scientific equipment; (2) aid to biological standardisation; (3) investigation of the role of customs duties as barriers to the circulation of scientific equipment; (4) standardisation of scientific equipment; (5) the language question and an auxiliary international language for science; (6) the formation of an international scientific appointments agency; (7) formation of international chairs at universities; (8) institution of prizes, laureateships, etc.; (9) commissioning the preparation of school text books designed to explain the world-view of science; (10) provision of scientific apparatus and equipment for regions and countries remote from the main centres of science and technology.(11)
of science in New Zealand may well be reviewed in the light of the opinions and experiences of those in other lands? Committees have been set up within the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and within our University Senate to consider certain aspects of this problem, and we in this general Science Conference are devoting a full session to discussion of the co-ordination of scientific research in New Zealand. There are many problems to be faced and much thought will be needed to cope with them. It would not be appropriate for me to do more than call attention to certain aspects of the general problem which may need special consideration. As a first approach we may note that one of our delegates to the two British conferences-stated that it was the general opinion therein that the ratio between academic and official research scientists in Britain was 2:1 and in the United States 4:1 and that the optimum ratio probably lies between these two(8) It was not stated, however, how the ratios were determined. Thanks to the courtesy of Dr. Marsden, Secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, it has been possible for me to compare the number of research workers in that department in March, 1947, concerned with problems in Physics, Chemistry, Geology and Biology (including Bio-chemistry and Dairying), with the total number of professors and lecturers as noted in our six College Calendars for 1947, together with the research students concerned in the same subjects. There are, of course, uncertainties as to how far under present circumstances it is possible to consider all of such teachers as potential research workers, but the impression gained is that if we considered as active research workers all members of university staffs and post-graduate research students who regularly give to their own research at least the equivalent of a day or more per week reckoned over the whole year, the ratio of academic to official research work in this country would not equal 1:3, or about one-tenth of the proportion considered desirable elsewhere.*
Whether this be a reasonably accurate estimate or not, it would appear that research carried out within our University forms a much smaller proportion of the total in this country than is the case in regard to academic research in Britain or in America.
Two factors contribute to this: the one circumstantial, the other dictated. The first arose during the urgencies of the last decade, the need for building up as rapidly as possible the scientific services of the Government, while during the same period there could not be secured a concomitant expansion of the basic academic research work. The energy with which our Department of Scientific and Industrial Research has striven to meet the clamant needs of the Dominion, and the success which has attended its efforts, have been contributory to the present (may I say) unbalanced condition in our scientific organisation. The second cause is, however, more significant, and has been stressed again and again by the critics of our University (e.g.12, 13), namely, its lack of adequate facilities and opportunities for research in the basic sciences. Though there is little need in such a gathering
[Footnote] * No consideration of research work in Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture, etc., or that of the ever-active workers in the Cawthron Institute has been attempted. Nor is it known whether comparable research work was considered in formulating the 2:1 or 4:1 ratios cited above.
as this to stress the immense importance of the research spirit in university education “in which teacher and student should be engaged jointly in a voyage of discovery in the search for truth,”(12, p. 76) a few words thereon may be permitted here. Those who have been taught by a man with this spirit know what it is to have been guided through the fundamental work of text book studies and routine disciplines, while seeing ever more clearly their inspiring leader beckoning them on into the unknown. Such a teacher shares his thoughts with his maturer students, his intuitions, his alternating frustrations and thrills, as his mind explores, now here, now there, avenues which eventually may prove to be blind alleys from which he withdraws to press forward in a new direction and eventually to find the open road to fresh discovery. “Teaching and research should thus be interwoven, and naturally the web will be closest in the advanced classes."12, pp 6, 76)
So it were better youth
Should strive, in acts uncouth,
Towards making, than repose in aught found made.
Here work enough to watch
The Master work, and catch
Hints of the proper craft, tricks of the tool's true play.(14)
Initiation into research, at first “through acts uncouth,” will vitalise the study of accepted truths, the things “found made,” and is at its best when the students learn “tricks of the tool's true play” not by precept so much as by example.
Professor Polanyi gives, in a publication(15) that may not be generally accessible to scientists, an analysis of the processes of discovery so vivid that it may helpfully be quoted at length: “The premises of science are taught roughly in three stages. School science imparts a facility for using scientific terms to indicate the established doctrines, the dead letter of science. The University tries to bring this knowledge to life by making the student realise its uncertainties and its eternally provisional nature. … It also imparts the beginnings of scientific judgment by teaching the practice of experimental proof and giving the first experience of routine research. ... But a full initiation into the premises of science can be gained only by the few who possess the gifts for becoming independent scientists, and they usually achieve it only through close personal association with the intimate views and practices of a distinguished master …
“In the course of any single experimental inquiry, the mutual stimulus between intuition and observation goes on all the time and takes most varied forms. Most of the time is spent in fruitless efforts sustained by a fascination which will take beating after beating for months on end, and produce ever new outbursts of hope, each as fresh as the last so bitterly crushed the week or month before. Vague shapes of the surmised truth suddenly take on sharp outlines of certainty, only to dissolve again in the light of second thoughts or of further experimental observations. Yet from time to time certain visions of the truth, having made their appearance, continue to gain strength both by further reflection and additional evidence. These are the claims which may be accepted as final by the investigator, and for which he may assume public responsibility by communicating them in
print. This is how scientific propositions normally come into existence…. We can clearly distinguish in all these phases of discovery the two personal elements which enter into every scientific judgment and make it possible for the scientist to be the judge in his own case. Intuitive impulses keep arising in him, stimulated by some of the evidence, but conflicting with other parts of it. One half of his mind keeps putting forward new claims, the other half keeps opposing them…. The conflict can be resolved only through a judicial decision by a third party standing above the contestants. This third party is the scientist's mind, which transcends both his creative impulses and his critical caution. We recognise the note struck by conscience in the tone of personal responsibility in which the scientist declares his ultimate claims. This indicates the presence of a moral element in the foundations of science.”(13, pp. 16–21,)
How little of such teaching can we give in our University! After a careful survey of the research work carried out in our Science Departments, the Chancellor last year was forced to conclude that though the volume and quality were creditable under our circumstances, the total amount was disappointingly small.* “Because of a failure to appreciate the part which a true university should play in a community, this wealthy country has starved its University. The colleges are gravely understaffed, and the teaching load is overwhelming. On the ratio of students to staff our staff is about one-sixth of that of Oxford or Cambridge, one-third that of other British universities, one-half that of Sydney or Melbourne. Even if there were more staff, there would be no buildings in which to put them.”(13, pp. 17, 21, 22)
He went on to indicate steps necessary to remedy those conditions such as increased staffing, decreased administrative duties, adequate opportunity for research, sabbatical leave, etc., all of which have been adopted in varying degree by more successful universities. They would require further expenditure, but that such expenditure should be considered a profitable investment, even in a time of great financial stringency, is clearly the view of British administrative authorities. Thus the Scientific Man Power Committee, concerned with the adequate training of thousands of qualified scientists as soon as possible, were opposed to any attempt to increase the student population without a somewhat greater increase in the number of university teachers. They felt it essential that the average teacher should have more and not less opportunity for his own research than in the past. Quality is at least as essential as quantity, and the quality of scientific training depends largely on the standard of the research work on which it is based. Strong research schools, they held, are needed in all university science departments, not only for the intrinsic value of the researches and their value to the teachers themselves, but also for the training of able students in methods of research. An essential part of any balanced expansion of the science faculties should be an
[Footnote] * An exception was made in regard to the Medical School, well staffed and equipped for teaching purposes and soon to be with adequate accommodation, and in which a considerable body of research has been achieved and is in progress well supported by funds supplied through the Medical Research Council. We are concerned in this address, however, chiefly with the sciences which fall within the purview of our Royal Society. (13, pp. 19–21)
expansion in the research schools for training purposes, and in the financial grants that are made especially for research work by university staffs.(3. §43, p 14, §56, p 17)
The increase in the number of trained scientists that will be needed in this Dominion, and the best means for securing and training those required, are being earnestly considered by the authorities in the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and in the University. There will be no dissent in this country from the British view that “so far as is possible no young person of requisite ability should be prevented by financial considerations from participating in the increased facilities for university education.”(4, p. 178) It may be well, however, to inquire what financial assistance is available at present to assist science graduates towards obtaining training in research.
The average yearly number of students graduating B.Sc. during the period 1942–6 was 101, but there were 163 in 1946, which was the “peak” year. There were available for competition between those desiring to extend their studies to a fourth year M.Sc. or Honours course about fifteen scholarships* from various sources worth from £50 to £90, and generally of one year's duration. Most of these students may hold for the fourth or post-B.Sc. year allowances, varying in value from £20 to £70, which had been granted to them when they commenced their University work.
M.Sc. (Honours) graduates, excluding those specialising in Mathematics, averaged thirty-one per year over the same five-year period, but there were sixty-one in 1946. Their calibre was:—
First Class Honours: Annual Average 9 with 16 in 1946
Second Class Honours: Annual Average 13 with 25 in 1946
Third Class Honours: Annual Average 9 with 20 in 1946
There were from all sources available for post-M.Sc. training in research about * ten scholarships, usually of two years' duration and value £100 to £250, tenable in New Zealand, and four travelling scholarships for about £300 tenable for two years outside of New Zealand.†
Allowances such as were held by B.Sc. graduates are, in general, not available to those who have graduated M.Sc. It would appear from the figures that though there is available some assistance for most B.Sc. graduates desiring to proceed to the Honours degree (assistance which under present regulations would be increased automatically with increase in the number of such graduates), there are at present barely enough scholarships to allow the best Honours graduates to continue their training in research methods for a fifth
[Footnote] * Scholarships open to science students in competition with students in other faculties, or which are not given annually, have been assigned appropriate fractional weight in estimating the total number and average value of scholarships open to science graduates.
[Footnote] † Footnote added March, 1948: Since this Address was delivered, other opportunities for post-graduate research have become available to New Zealand students. The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in New Zealand has placd £10,000 at the disposal of a Research Fund Committee which may award from time to time Fellowships for full-time research within our University. They will be normally of £300 per annum, tenable for two years, with possibility of additional maintenance grants in special circumstances. Further a new Fellowship of £350 per annum for two years has been instituted under the same conditions as those pertaining to the Science Research Scholarships granted by the Royal Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851 except that it is tenable only at the Royal Institution in London.
year or longer, and that any increase in the number of Honours students undergoing further training in research, if it is to benefit the community fully, must be accompanied by the provision of maintenance grants for them. While it may be at the close of their fourth (Honours) year of study, or preferably of their fifth year, that the majority of graduates with some experience of research are recruited into junior scientific posts, graduates of higher qualification are necessary also, as the British, Australian(16) and our own government scientific services have recognised. “Three years of undergraduate work do not make a trained scientist—an additional two or three years of research is essential for a considerable proportion of science graduates. The proper training of a first-class research scientist and also of the higher grades of teacher cannot be accomplished in much less than the five or six years already accepted as necessary for a doctor.”(3, £56, p. 17)
We must, therefore, hope that in addition to a generous scheme of maintenance grants available to those desiring to obtain a year's training in research after graduating with Honours, there will be provided a smaller number of more valuable Research Fellowships to enable the unusually able scientists to obtain either here or (where more suitable) in other countries, still more advanced experience that would qualify them to bring inspiration and guidance in this country to the research service to which they might later be attached, be it educational, governmental, or industrial. The Ph.D. course recently reinstituted by our University might be utilised by some of such students.
Expansion in the scientific work of our University, as in the British universities also, cannot, however, be made rapidly. Extra staffing, equipment, and accommodation must be provided before the universities can cope with perceptibly larger numbers of students. Even as regards research work, some time must elapse before University scientific departments could utilise to the best advantage research grants for work of a local or fundamental importance, which would call for the integration of the individual studies of a number of investigators and accordingly require a continuity of available funds, and a succession of suitable post-graduate workers, neither of which we can at present anticipate with confidence. Yet it is just such “small research units in universities” that have been termed the “spear heads of scientific progress.”(C, p 16) Sir Edward Appleton as head of British Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, speaking of universities in which such research units may function, was emphatic as to their value. “What cannot be doubted is that university conditions do, somehow, generally ensure the maintenance of a mental adventurousness and lively imagination so necessary for scientific progress. And we, therefore, believe that in the scientific civil service we must ensure that conditions are encouraged which will bring the same things about.”(6, p. 16)
It is with diffidence that I, as a University teacher, may seem to use an opportunity to state here the University's case for increased public support. Yet it arises inevitably from the subject of this address, “Scientists Look Towards the Future,” that we should draw from the experience and views of forward-looking scientists and
scientific administrators in Britain some indication of the direction in which this Dominion may obtain the greatest benefit from the institutions it already possesses, to further the advance of scientific knowledge and of its application to the welfare of the community. As a University teacher, I acknowledge with great appreciation the increased help recently provided by the authorities to aid the University towards fulfilling its function as a training-ground for scientists. I feel that more can and will be given in due course with much benefit to the community. It would be futile to suggest that British experience or plans in this respect could appropriately be exactly duplicated in this Dominion, where the background circumstances are different, but in all probability the basic principles for determining general policies in the two countries have very much in common. “The proper balance between university research and research under government auspices is a matter each nation must determine according to its requirements.”(6, p. 16) We may be confident that the balance in this country will be determined not all at once, but progressively, and with that concern for the need of the community, and in the spirit of mutual appreciation and helpfulness which has characterised the relations between the official scientific services and our University.
These institutions are not, however, the only channels through which research may be fostered in New Zealand. Our Royal Society, like that of London, has the duty of administering both trust funds and Government grants for the encouragement of research. It receives £750 yearly from the Government, this year to be increased to £1,250, still less than its pre-war grant of £1,500. This, supplemented from other sources, provides for the administrative expenses and cost of publishing its Transactions. It has expended during the past decade an annual average of £75, in providing out of trust funds given for the specific purpose, memorial awards made to senior workers in recognition of the value of long-continued active research. But, as scientists who would be regarded as suitable recipients of these awards would be those who have long worked without thought of such reward, it may perhaps be doubted whether the awards could be considered as effectively encouraging research, though they are doubtless helpful in meeting the expenses of work still in progress. The smaller Hamilton Award given to promising younger workers may certainly be considered as encouraging further efforts.
The Hutton Fund has yielded an annual income of £68, and is at present almost the only fund available for the fostering of research by amateur workers, who are mostly interested in natural science, and who have made contributions to knowledge which have often been of very great value. Our Royal Society desires further to encourage and help such work. The restoration of our annual grant to its former value would make possible this and other desirable advances in its service to science. It may here be appropriate to recall the stress laid by the Royal Society of London on the fact that the endowments most beneficial to science are those which leave the Council of the Society to decide as to the manner in which they may best be used.
In the concluding portion of this address I shall try to take a wider view of the rôle of science in our modern world, not merely as the means of acquiring greater knowledge of the forces of Nature, and greater material benefits from our increased control of them, but also as an intellectual and moral discipline in the search for truth, which, applied with equal fidelity to the problems of human and international relationships, may lead us far towards the solution of major world-problems.
Out of many significant utterances we may select for opening this topic, that of the Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society when addressing the Executive Committee of the International Council of Scientific Unions which in December, 1945, was arranging for the General Assembly of this Council in July, 1946. Professor A. V. Hill(17) then declared: “The course of world events has made it even clearer than it ever was before not only that science in its own interest must remain an international concern, but that the very future of civilisation itself depends on the close co-operation of scientific men throughout the world. We have now reached a time when a common standard of ethical behaviour is just as important in science as in medicine. This means that in standards of integrity, in readiness to co-operate with other scientists of goodwill everywhere, and in refusal to use the common knowledge, prestige, and power of science for base, harmful, and selfish ends, scientists should feel bound by an unbreakable obligation—as a duty to themselves, as a duty to their fellow scientists, as a duty to their fellow men.”
The Assembly shared these views, and expressed them in resolutions(18) seeking the internationally co-operative use for the welfare of mankind of recent researches which disclose vast possibilities for good or for ill as they are rightly or wrongly used. We quote here only the third resolution:—
“(3) The General Assembly of the International Council of Scientific Unions, in the name of men of science of the nations represented, acknowledges the duty on the part of scientific workers:—
to maintain a spirit of frankness, honesty, integrity, and co-operation and to work for international understanding;
to promote the development of science in the way most beneficial to mankind and to exert their influence as far as is possible to prevent its misuse;
to serve the community not only by their specialised work, but by assisting as far as they are able in the education of the public in the purposes and achievements of science.”
A draft agreement of mutual recognition and close consultative relations and co-operation between the International Council of Scientific Unions and UNESCO was drawn up for ratification by the latter body, which was made at the meeting of UNESCO in December last.
The Charter of UNESCO commences with the words, “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” Such was the burden of inspiring addresses given before the American Philosophical Society in April, 1946, and was also the thought underlying the conferences in Washington in October last of which we have been told by Professor
Allan. The addresses (9; a, b, c) in April sketched the hesitating steps by which America had come little by little into collaboration with the international organisations, some instituted before, but many after, the last great war. They showed that the bitter experiences of the last decade had compelled a general realisation that an isolationist reluctance to assume responsibility in co-operating with other powers in matters concerning the peace and well-being of humanity as a whole was neither beneficial nor appropriate for any great nation. Particular emphasis was laid on the desirability of the active collaboration of scientists with UNESCO, the constitution of which had been drawn up very largely by American thinkers, and American participation in which had been warmly approved by both Congress and Senate.* As Dr. Bronk emphasised,(9c) “National boundaries and national customs are meaningless in the study of most natural phenomena…. Scientists were the first to realise the practical dependence of their work on the efforts of those in different lands. This results from no unique nobility of spirit, but rather from the simple realisation of personal advantage that comes from a free exchange of ideas. If scientists are better prepared for the acceptance of the principles of world unity, it is because they have longer realised the benefits of such co-operation.” The difficulties of reuniting, in the present conditions of a world physically, mentally and spiritually impoverished, links which had existed in less disordered times, and of forging new links of international collaboration must be freely acknowledged. It necessitates the more urgently the collaboration of those who will bring both faith and works to the great task. Scientists who, more than others, have opportunities for collaborating in matters of common interest with workers of other countries, in their rôles of teachers and to some extent publicists, can do much to spread widely their realisation, based on practical experience, of the value of this and other forms of international collaboration between scientists enjoying intellectual freedom.
This leads us to inquire what constitutes the freedom of science. Two phases of this freedom may be distinguished: freedom to believe, and freedom to proclaim belief. The first of these has been recently discussed by Professor Polanyi.(15, 10) Like all true freedoms, it has implicit limitations. It involves first, he holds, an act of personal dedication, a complete acceptance of the scientific tradition embodied in our common practices in research, our method of investigating alternatives suggested by intuition or observation, testing and elimination by trial and error: it involves, also, use of the strict processes of logical reasoning, and the conviction that in the ultimate conclusions drawn by sound reasoning from adequate data we discover reality. Subject always to these constraints, the scientist is completely
[Footnote] * The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation has been founded to continue and extend the work of the International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation which had been set up under the League of Nations, with its centre in Paris. It produced important studies on bibliographies, of museum and archaeological techniques, surveys of new theories and methods in physics and mathematics, the teaching of history and humanism, and in particular organised a series of conferences of international, usually academic, authorities freely to discuss (for no resolutions were to be framed or votes taken) basic principles and diverse viewpoints on important matters concerning which it was unlikely there would be general agreement; as such were considered “The State and Intellectual Life,” “Collective Security,” and “The Problem of Peaceful Change.”
free to reach such conclusions and to visualise such new aspects of truth as may be determined by his scientific conscience, that impartial and responsible judicial function of his mind “which transcends both his creative impulses and his critical caution.” But he must recognise also that his conclusions are inevitably to some extent tentative, subject to revision by the same standards of judgment as new observations are made and new conceptions or interpretations are developed, and reality becomes less and less of an abstraction. Hence it is that scientists, though rejecting any authoritatively imposed statement of “scientific” dogma, and maintaining each his own individual beliefs, do in fact hold in common an immense amount of accepted truth, and can discuss their diverse views on matters as yet incompletely studied, with the full confidence in each other's acceptance of the traditions of scientific investigation and judgment. It is this, also, that enables them to co-operate fully in the organisation of science, a perfect example of well-informed democratic guidance applied to the advance of knowledge. “A purely individualistic approach to science denying the existence of any common tradition denies also the freedom of decision, for there would be no common ground for judging the validity of a scientific proposition.” One recalls the words attributed to the Goddess of Wisdom.(20)
… pure law
Becometh perfect freedom.
It is but a step from this to our final topic, the necessity for science with freedom so to judge, to have freedom also to declare its belief. And here I cease weaving the fabric of précis and paraphrase that constitutes much of this Address, and quote directly certain passages which are surely the clearest and most terse statement that can be made of the view they set forth. Sir Henry H. Dale, Past President of the Royal Society of London, addressed in Washington, last October, the assembled scientists of America and their many guests from other lands, taking “The Freedom of Science” as the subject of his Pilgrim Trust* Lecture.(21) He declared that an affirmative answer to the question addressed by Benjamin Franklin to all entrants to the American Philosophical Society would be the best form of Hippocratic Oath for modern scientists. It runs, “Do you love truth for truth's sake, and will you endeavour impartially to find and receive it for yourself, and communicate it to others?” “The right and duty to tell the world the truth which we discover without regard to the interests of any persons, prejudices, creeds, political theory or national policy, has been,” he said, “the charter of our scientific freedom.”… “Let it be understood that there can be no question of anything less than perfect fidelity to pledges given and not yet relinquished, nor any claim by scientists to more than their democratic share in shaping the policies of nations claiming their loyalties. That being understood, we have surely the right and duty to give urgent warning of any danger threatened by those policies to the integrity of science, which we, the world's scientists,
[Footnote] * The Pilgrim Trust Lectures were founded to permit in alternate occasions a representative American scientist to address the Royal Society in London and a representative British scientist to address the National Academy of Science in Washington.
should hold as a sacred trust, not for any nation, but for the world. I hold it to be our right and duty to unite in telling the world insistently that if national policies fail to free science in peace time from the secrecy which it accepted as a necessity in war, they will poison its very spirit… The moral education of mankind needs all that can be offered by man's sincere seeking for the truth in any of its aspects. Science has indeed a contribution of its own to make to the cultural and moral equipment that man so urgently needs not less than that made by any other body of knowledge or educational discipline…. It is not without significance that whereas history, literature, art, and even religion, all have national characteristics and local attachments, science alone of man's major intellectual interests has no frontiers, and no national varieties, that science, like peace, is one and indivisible…. And science, we should insist, better than any other discipline can hold up to its students an ideal of patient devotion to the search for truth, with vision unbounded by personal or political motives, not tolerating any lapse from precision or neglect of any anomaly, fearing only prejudice and preconception, accepting Nature's answers humbly and with courage, and giving them to the world with unflinching fidelity. The world cannot afford to lose such a contribution to the moral framework of its civilisation, and science can offer it only if science can remain free.”
List of Documents Cited.
1. Report on the Needs of Research in Fundamental Science after the War. Royal Society of London, 1944.
2. Notes on Grants awarded by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to Research Workers and Students. H.M. Stationery Office, November, 1945.
3. Scientific Man Power. Report of Committee appointed by the Lord President of the Council White Paper Cmd. 6824. H.M. Stationery Office, May, 1946.
4. Scientific Man Power in Britain. Nature, February 8, 1947, pp. 177–179.
5. The Royal Society Empire Scientific Conference, June-July, 1946. Preliminary Report, 1947.
6. Report of the British Commonwealth Scientific Conference. Official Conference, London, 1946. Cmd. 6970. H.M. Stationery Office, 1946.
7. Appleton, Sir E. V. “Science, Government, and Industry in Britain,” Lecture given in Boston, U.S.A., November, 1946. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 2, Nos. 11 and 12, pp. 2–5. December, 1946.
8. Hercus, Sir C. E. Some Impressions of the Commonwealth Science Congress. The Otago University Chronicle, Vol. 8, No. 6, November, 1946, pp. 1–3.
9. (a) Leland, W. G. “The Background and Antecedents of UNESCO.” Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc., Vol. 90, No. 4, September, 1946.
(b) Thomson, C. A. “The Rôle of Government in UNESCO.” Loc. cit.
(c) Bronk, D. W. “International Relations among Scientists.” Loc. cit.
10. (a) UNESCO. Commentary on the proposed Programme by V. MacLeish, Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Programme Commission. Duplicated typescript.
(b) Report on UNESCO. Interview with New Zealand Delegates, Dr. C. E. Beeby and Miss McPhee. N.Z. Listener, Vol. 16, No. 409, April, 1947, pp. 6–9.
11. The Australian Journal of Science, Vol. 9, No. 5, 21st April, 1947, pp. 185–6.
12. Report of the Royal (Tate-Reichel) Commission on University Education in New Zealand, 1925.
13. Smith, Hon. Mr. Justice. D. Needs of the University. Address to the Senate of the University of New Zealand, 17th January, 1946.
14. Browning, R. Rabbi ben Ezra.
15. Polanyi, M. Science, Faith, and Society. Riddell Memorial Lectures, Univ. of Durham, Oxford Univ. Press, 1946.
16. Private communication from the Secretary, Australian Commonwealth Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, dated 23/4/1947.
17. Hill, A. V. Quoted in Nature, Vol. 157, Jan. 26, 1946, p. 96, and (not quite accurately) in Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc., Vol. 91, 1947, pp. 124–5.
18. International Council of Scientific Unions. Notes and Records of Royal Society of London, Vol. 4, 1946, pp. 168–173.
19. Polanyi, M. The Foundations of Freedom in Science. Bull. Atomic Scientists, Vol. 2, Nos. 11–12, December, 1946, pp. 6–7.
20. Tennyson, A. Oenone.
21. Dale, Sir H. “The Freedom of Science.” Pilgrim Trust Lecture delivered at Washington, 22nd October, 1946. Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc., Vol. 91, No. 1, pp. 64–72.