Otago Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand
Annual Report for Session 1948
Membership. The total membership of the Branch is now 167, compared with 168 at the end of the 1947 session.
Representatives on Museum Committee. Mr. C. V. Dayus and Mr. George Simpson continued to act in this capacity.
Representatives on Council of Royal Society of New Zealand. Dr. C. M. Focken and Professor Gordon J. Williams.
Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Dr. N. L. Edson, a member of the Branch and an Associate Professor in the University of Otago, was elected a Fellow at the Annual Meeting. Your Council feels that this honour is well merited by Dr. Edson, who has done extensive and important research in biochemistry.
Address by Dr. Robert Cushman Murphy. Dr. Murphy visited Dunedin after the close of the 1947 session, but the “Red” lecture theatre, Medical School, was engaged for November 19, 1947, and a large number of members was able to attend to hear this eminent authority lecture on Oceanic Birds, and to see some beautiful slides and two interesting films which he brought with him.
Auditorium. The Branch's Auditorium Fund, now amounts to £1,874 7s 1d. The Government is subsidising the cost of the Museum extension. The discussions revealed the fact that the existing plans and proposals for the Auditorium in the Museum extension were nothing like those envisaged by your Council, who feel that, in this connection, the original wishes of the anonymous donor of the greater part of the fund should be followed. Although it is realised that the Auditorium is primarily for Museum purposes, and that the major portion of its cost will be borne by the Museum Fund proper, there can be no doubt that the donor intended his gift to provide reasonable facilities within that Auditorium for the activities of the Royal Society. At various times during the year a delegation from your Council, consisting of the President, Hon. Treasurer, and Hon. Secretary, have met both the Museum Committee of Management and the Building Sub-committee of that body to discuss further the question of the Auditorium, and it seems probable that a satisfactory solution will eventually be worked out.
World Calendar. Your Council passed the following resolution: “That the Otago Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand is in full agreement with the movement of the World Calendar Association Incorporated to establish the World Calendar,” and forwarded it to the Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand with a request that the question of the World Calendar be put on the agenda of the Annual Meeting for 1948. A copy of the resolution was sent to the World Calendar Association Incorporated.
Discussion at the Annual Meeting of the Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand resulted in an intimation being sent to the World Calendar Association Incorporated, to the Prime Minister, and to the Leader of the Opposition that the Royal Society of New Zealand is in favour of calendar reform as proposed by the World Calendar Association.
Astronomical Section. This section has informed your Council that the local Telescope Makers' Club wishes to amalgamate with it, and that the section is in favour of such amalgamation. The proposal raises certain constitutional points and the whole matter is still under consideration.
General Meetings. April 20, Presidential Address (Dr. Basil Howard), “A Layman Looks at Science”; May 4, Dr. R. R. Nimmo, “Tube Alloys or the Atomic Bomb”; June 8, Mr. J. Rogers, M.Sc., A.N.Z.I.C., “Mineral Dressing: Some New Zealand Problems”; July 13, Professor Marples, “Penguins”; biographical sketch, Mr. W. V. Heazlewood, M.Sc., “Professor James Gow Black”; August 10, Mr. W. Vose, “The Role of Ceramics in Modern Life and Industry”; biographical sketch, Miss B. Brewin, M.Sc., “Professor Parker”; September 14, Dr. W. P. Morrell, “Gold” (joint meeting with Historical Section of the Branch); biographical sketch, Dr. H. D. Skinner, “John Buchanan, F.L.S.”; October 12, Professor R. M. Gabriel, “The ‘Numbers’ of Mathematics”; biographical sketch, Professor C. J. Williams, “Professor James Park.”
Original Papers. Miss Beryl I. Brewin, M.Sc., “Ascidians from Otago Coastal Waters”; Mr. K. W. Allison, B.Sc., “New Species of New Zealand Bryophytes”;
Mr. A. C. Amies, M.Sc., F.G.S., “An Intrusion of Porphyrite near Waihao Forks,” with an appendix by Mr. D. S. Coombs, M.Sc., “Note on the Occurrence of Further Porphyritic Rocks in River Gravels of South Canterbury and North Otago”; Professor W. N. Benson and Dr. H. J. Finlay, “Micropalaeontology of a Concretion in a New Zealand Crab.”
Junior Lectures. The attendance this year has been rather disappointing, the average being only 48. It is hoped there will be an improvement next year. Organiser, Dr. Basil Howard.
Astronomical Section. The section has had a successful year. With regard to the Beverly-Begg Observatory, the season of public nights held each Saturday, beginning late in April and lasting until the end of September, was a successful one with only four occasions on which sky conditions were totally unfit for observation. Attendance figures this year showed a decline, 320 visitors patronising the Observatory, as against 370 for last year. The largest attendance on any evening was 40 on May 15.
Observations of occultations have been continued, although under some difficulty on occasions on account of the absence of the clock. However, a new clock is on order from England, and when it arrives this work, whose importance was stressed by Dr. Comrie on his recent visit, will be much facilitated. A useful acquisition during the year was a stop-watch purchased for the Observatory.
During the year the section has interested the Queenstown Progress League in the marking of the spot at Queenstown where an American expedition to Otago observed the transit of Venus on December 8, 1874. The section is prepared to provide a suitably inscribed plaque for fixing to a pedestal or stone let into the ground.
The Committee of the section recently met a delegation from the Telescope Makers' Club which desired to enter into an arrangement with the section for the joint use of a common lecture and work room. It was decided that a joint appeal be made to the Government for a grant to provide additional accommodation at the Observatory which could be used by both parties.
The section roll stands at 48 full members and 24 associate members.
Historical Section. At a meeting on August 4 it was decided to revive the Historical Section, Dr. W. P. Morrell being elected President, and about fifty indicating their intention of becoming members. Mr. W. J. Harris gave an address on that occasion on “Source Materials for the Historian in Otago,” and two further meetings were held, Dr. J. Rutherford reading a paper on “The Acquisition of British Sovereignty in New Zealand” and a panel discussion on “‘The Teaching of History in Secondary Schools” being held on October 9, in conjunction with the annual conference of Otago and Southland secondary teachers. The section also held a joint meeting with the Branch, when Dr. Morrell spoke on “The Otago Gold Rush in Perspective.”
Scientific Methodology Section. No meetings were held this year.
Microscopical Section. Owing chiefly to lack of office-bearers with sufficient spare time, this section remained in partial abeyance. The only meeting held was organised for the Junior Branch on the evening of July 16 in the new Medical School, Hanover Street.