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Attempts to establish an Australian Branch of the British Institute of Physics started as early as 1923. A.D. Ross was one of the major instigators, however, T.H. Laby, was not convinced that it would be a useful thing to do at all. He wrote to Ross:

I doubt whether [forming a section in Australia] is practicable as there seem to be very few who would join the Institute. I doubt if in the whole of Australia you would get a dozen members of the body, and it would be fortunate if half of that number attended a meeting of any local section.(1)

Despite Laby's doubts, the first committee of the Australian Branch of the British Institute of Physics was was appointed on 28 August 1924. The British Board of the Institute officially recognised the Australian committee on 10 December 1924; Professor Ross was made the Local Honorary Secretary of the Institute for Australia, and Professor Laby was the Inaugural President. Laby. A.L. McAulay and Ross were the first committee Fellows, while N.A. Esserman, E.O. Hercus, and R.D. Thompson were Associate Members.

In 1944 the Board of the British Institute of Physics approved a Constitution for the Australian Branch. By 1945 the membership of the Australian Branch had risen to forty-nine Fellows, seventy-eight Associates, fourteen Subscribers and forty-one Students. The organisation still holds regular meetings and conferences and continues to support physicists and their research in Australia.

(1) T.H. Laby, letter to Professor Ross, 25 October 1923, Basser Library Manuscript Collection, MS 86/1/1.

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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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