A Bright Sparcs Exhibition
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The glass lens is the magic eye of science; but it is also the giant's eye of modern mechanised war, without which armies would be practially blind.

H.C. McKay, 'Magic eyes of war and peace', Smith's Weekly, 18 November 1939, p. 13.

AWM#5033 - 81.2 K

You had to be able to see the enemy.

Despite the development of radar during the Second World War, quality optical instruments were still as important as guns and tanks. High-powered weapons were of little use unless you could aim them accurately. Range finders, predictors, sighting telescopes, periscopes, sextants, and directors were all essential pieces of equipment.

In November 1939, the journalist H.C. McKay pointed out that Australia was totally dependent on Britain and the USA for 'these vital supplies'. What would happen if the imports were blocked? McKay had no doubt that Australian technical expertise could fill the gap:

The Australian worker ... can grasp a method quicker than anyone else in the world. If you want to make lenses, he'll make them - or optical glass for that matter - if you show him how.

McKay's confidence was soon put to the test.

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Published by the Australian Science Archives Project on ASAPWeb, 30 April 1997
Comments or corrections to: Bright Sparcs (bsparcs@asap.unimelb.edu.au)
Prepared by: Denise Sutherland and Elissa Tenkate
Updated by: Elissa Tenkate
Date modified: 19 February 1998

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