History of Australian Science Newsletter

No. 32, March 1994


[BW photo]Innoculation of eggs for the production of influenza vaccine, undated, from the Burnet papers (file 14/16). (77kb jpeg.)

HASN - Alive, Well and Electronic

You may have noticed that there was no November edition of HASN. Ah yes, that explains the gaping emptiness you felt towards the end of the year. The main reason for this was purely logistical, ASAP's limited resources were fully stretched finishing off the four guides to archival collections that were launched in December (see article this page). But, snatching opportunity from the jaws of overwork, the November non-edition has served to launch HASN's new twice-a-year publishing schedule. HASN will now appear in March and August each year. This will let me pack more into each edition without blowing the budget or permanently crippling myself (who do you think folded most of the nasty things?).

Another exciting development is that HASN is now available in electronic form via AARNet and Internet. This is the result of a co- operative effort between ASAP and the Coombs Computing Unit of the Research Schools of Social Science and Pacific & Asian Studies at ANU. Currently HASN Nos 30 and 31 are available in plain text (ASCII) format. This edition will join them shortly, in both ASCII and hypertext formats. The hypertext edition will include the photographs that the plain text version misses out on, together with links to other resources and documents. For information on gaining access to this facility, go to the article ASAP on AARNet.

You might not realise that HASN is currently distributed to over 1200 people in Australia and overseas. The readership is diverse, and I hope that each edition includes an equally diverse range of news and information - but I need your help! You will see that this HASN includes a new column on museums from Richard Gillespie. There must be other potential correspondents out there who would like to let HASN readers know what's happening in their own particular disciplines, institutions, organisations or fields of interest. If so, please contact me at the address in this document's header. Or perhaps there are other things you'd like to see in HASN, or suggestions as to how it could be improved; maybe you just want to let me know how much you enjoy reading HASN (we thrive on compliments at ASAP).

Launch of New ASAP Guides

Important new research tools for use in the history of Australian science were recently published by the Australian Science Archives Project. Detailed guides to the personal and scientific records of Macfarlane Burnet, Laurie Coombes, Crosbie Morrison and Lloyd Rees will provide ready access to these significant collections.

About 120 people, including members of the scientists' families, attended the official launch of the guides at Scienceworks in December. Speaking at the launch, Dr Ditta Bartels, the President of FASTS, commented that ASAP 'is moving into centre stage for linking the past of Australian science to the future'. (Ditta's speech is reprinted in the features section.)

[BW photo]Some of the crowd at the ASAP Guide launch in the Pumping Station at Scienceworks (50kb jpeg).

The published guides contain detailed information on the contents of each file in the collection, together with an index, career outline, and a number of photographs drawn from the records. All are available from ASAP at a cost of $20, plus $5.00 for postage and handling. Contact Lisa O'Sullivan on (03) 344 6557 or Tim Sherratt on (06) 257 7985 for further details.

Electronic Forum for History of Australian Science & Technology

The ASAP Canberra Office and ANU's Coombs Computing Unit have collaborated to establish an electronic forum evocatively titled 'Hist-Aust-Sci-Tech-L'. This Forum has been established to provide a world-wide communications vehicle and a central electronic archive for anyone working on, or interested in the history of Australian science and technology. The Forum is more concerned with sharing information and promoting discussion between people whose interests touch on the field, than enforcing strict definitions of what constitutes 'Australian science and technology'. Contributions might therefore relate to medicine or engineering, or seek to explore comparisons with the development of science in other countries. Reports on your own research, requests for help, information on sources, and relevant news items are all welcomed. It is hoped that participants will include historians, scientists, librarians, archivists, museum curators, teachers and others. The Forum operates without a moderator and is open to all.

For information on how to subscribe to this forum (which operates via email), see the article ASAP on AARNet, or contact me at Tim.Sherratt@asap.unimelb.edu.au.

Woolly Identities

[BW photo](65kb jpeg.) You will recall that in the last edition of HASN we sought help in identifying two presumed Antarctic explorers modelling the latest in winter woollies. It has been suggested that the one on the left is Xavier Mertz, and his companion is Charles A. Hoadley. However, after close inspection, I am tending towards David Branagan's identifications of Frank Leslie Stillwell (left) and Douglas Mawson (right). I await confirmation.

Australian Psychological Society Oral History Project

The Archives Committee of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) is currently engaged in an on-going Oral History Project as part of documenting the history and growth of the discipline. This has now run to an extensive series of interviews with most of Australia's notable senior psychologists. The beginnings of the Project date back to the 1970s in Western Australia. The Project grew and spread through other states. It eventually came under the auspices of the APS's Archives Committee, with the University of Sydney's Alison Turtle as convenor. Initially, interviewees were selected by prominent psychologists and members of the Archives Committee on the basis of being long-standing contributors to Australian psychology. This phase of the Project netted over 40 interviews Australia-wide. Most have been fully transcribed. An additional set of 50 potential interviewees was gathered from a 1991 circular sent to all senior APS members, many of whom have now been interviewed.

The tapes and transcripts that make up the APS Oral History collection are intended as a general resource for scholarly research. They are designed to complement existing written historical material and official records - particularly the records of the Society itself which are also held at the University of Melbourne Archives. The collection should prove an invaluable resource for future historians for whatever aspect of the story of Australian psychology they wish to reconstruct.

- R.B. Buchanan, Australian Science Archives Project

AAS Fellows Interviewed

From 13 to 16 September last year the Basser Library and the seminar room in Ian Potter House at the Australian Academy of Science were converted into television studios. Dr Max Blythe and his camera operators from Oxford Brookes University in Britain were at the AAS to interview eminent Australian scientists. They talked to fellows in the medical and biological fields including Professor Gordon Ada, Professor David Curtis, Dr Max Day, Professor Frank Fenner, Sir Otto Frankel, Professor Frank Gibson, Sir Rutherford Robertson, Professor Ralph Slatyer and Dr Douglas Waterhouse. Copies of the tapes will be held in the Basser Library.

-Australian Academy of Science Newsletter, October-December 1993

HASN Founder Honoured

In October last year, Rod Home, the founding editor of HASN, editor of Historical Records of Australian Science, and Director of ASAP, became the first Australian to be accorded the honour of membership of the International Academy of the History of Science. And yes, Rod also manages to find time to be Professor in the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Melbourne.

Macleay Museum News

The third Macleay Miklouho-Maclay Fellow, Dr Clemency Fisher, took up her three-month fellowship in December 1993. Dr Fisher is Curator of Birds and Mammals at the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside in Liverpool, England. While in Sydney, she is working primarily on an annotated transcript of the diary which explorer and naturalist John Gilbert kept on the first Leichhardt Expedition in 1844-1845. The diary is held in the Mitchell Library. This will be produced as an illustrated book, with maps of Leichhardt's route and the interesting route Gilbert took overland (following stockmen's trails) between Newcastle and south Queensland before joining the expedition.

The 19th International INHIGEO Symposium will be held at Sydney University in early July, focusing on 'History of the Geological Sciences in the Pacific Region'. A display will be mounted in the museum on Aspects of Geological History, to be launched at the Symposium reception on 4 July. The display will draw on the museum's collections and possibly other university collections and will will run until November.

- Reprinted from Macleay Museum News. If you would like to receive future issues, send your name and address to: Macleay Museum News, Macleay Museum, University of Sydney, NSW, 2006. A donation towards the cost of production and distribution of the Newsletter, or for the Museum's work in general, would be very welcome. Donations to the Macleay Museum are tax deductible.

Mawson Museum

The Spring 1993 edition of Lumen magazine, published by the University of Adelaide, included an article about Sir Douglas Mawson entitled 'New "base camp" for an Australian Hero'. The article explained that an interpretive museum was soon to be opened at the University's Waite Campus to commemorate Mawson's life and work:

'It is fitting that the University of Adelaide and all Australians now have the opportunity to pay tribute to one of their "honest-to- God heroes" with the establishment of the Mawson Museum. The Museum, scheduled to open in 1995, will house an interpretive exhibition that recreates the atmosphere of Mawson's Antarctic expeditions, details Mawson's distinguished career as a geologist and explorer, and highlights issues relating to the future of Antarctica.

'The Museum will enable the public to see for the first time, tangible records of his historic achievements in the form of 800 artefacts, some 20,000 photographs - many of them by Frank Hurley, arguably one of the world's greatest polar photographers - thousands of letters and scientific papers left in trust when Mawson died in 1958.

'The collection has been described as a "national treasure" by experts in the field. It was to have been preserved in the University's now disbanded Mawson Institute for Antarctic Research and some of the most significant material was recently the subject of a claim (later withdrawn) by the New South Wales State Library. The Library has subsequently become one of the project's strongest supporters so the collection is now assured of a permanent and appropriate home befitting Australia's greatest 20th century explorer.

'The Museum will vividly demonstrate Mawson's courage, determination and resourceful spirit as he pitted himself against the world's most hostile environment, and consolidate Australia's heritage of Antarctic endeavours.'

Historical Collection at the University of Queensland

The Physics Museum at The University of Queensland is mainly a collection of scientific instruments preserved for the instruction and pleasure of those learning to design and use measurement devices, but each piece has a past and fits into the history of Australian science. Many of the instruments are standard items from major suppliers of the early twentieth century like the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Co, but some were associated with particular people like Thomas Parnell, first lecturer and then Professor of Physics at the University of Queensland, or Arnold Reimann or Hugh Webster. An example is a Sumpner Reflecting Electrodynamometer by Robert W. Paul, London, which Parnell used as a sort of phase sensitive detector in work reported in the first research publication of the department in 1917.

[BW photo]Microscope manufactured by the Munitions Supply Laboratories (22kb jpeg).

Others were Australian made like an MSL microscope or an AWA oscilloscope from c. 1948. We are presently preparing a WWII CSIR Radiophysics Laboratory ionosonde for display. It dates from the beginning of nearly fifty years of ionospheric physics research in our department. From time to time other items are donated by other departments or members of the public.

As well as the 250 instruments, we are trying to build up a collection of relevant books, catalogues and operating manuals. These include part of Parnell's personal library, later donated to the department, and Webster's annotated copy of Rutherford, Chadwick and Ellis' book on Radiations from Radioactive Substances. Chadwick was Webster's PhD supervisor at the Cavendish, and Webster did much of the work leading to his Nobel prize winning discovery of the neutron. In fact, before him, Parnell's tutor in Cambridge was O. W. Richardson, another Nobel prize winner (1928), and we have Parnell's copy of his book on The Emission of Electricity from Hot Bodies (1916), inscribed 'Lieut. T. Parnell'. We are especially keen to obtain scientific instrument catalogues which can be used for identification and dating as few records have survived eighty years and the move to St Lucia in 1955. Perhaps some reader can help? First versions of Paradox databases covering the instruments and books should be ready by the end of the year.

Although we have a suitable room and have converted some surplus library shelves into display cases, lack of staffing limits opening to only one hour per week. However, any reader can arrange a visit by contacting Norman Heckenberg on (07) 365 3424 (Heckenberg@Physics.Uq.Oz.Au). Head of Department, John Mainstone and I are very keen to cooperate with anyone interested in researching the history of physics in Australia, for whom the museum could be a useful resource.

- Norman Heckenberg, University of Queensland

Monash Instrument Collection

The first exhibition of the Monash University Faculty of Science Instrument Collection, entitled 'Mainly Early Monash', was opened by the Dean of Science, Professor Ian Rae, on 15 October 1993.

The collection was begun as an effort to save equipment and apparatus made and used in the early days at Monash, but continues to expand. One particular strength is in the history of weighing, as illustrated by a fine series of balances. Enquiries and donations are welcome and a catalogue is available. Contact the curator, Mrs Nicola Williams, Chemistry Department, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, 3168.

INHIGEO Symposium

As reported in a previous edition of HASN, the 19th International Symposium of the International Commission on the History of the Geological Sciences will be held in Sydney from 4-8 July 1994. The Symposium will have the theme 'History of the Geological Sciences in the Pacific Region', and will be held at the University of Sydney. History of geology excursions are being organised to the Hunter Valley, the South Coast and the Blue Mountains. A second circular, with full details of the Symposium and a registration form can be obtained from the Secretariat, 19th INHIGEO Symposium, c/o Earth Resources Foundation, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Ph. (02) 552 6136, Fax (02) 552 6058.

An interesting and varied programme of papers has been organised, with topics including: 'Geologists in Tasmania, 1840-1890'; 'The Geological Society of Australia'; 'Exploration work of Polish geoscientists in Australasia'; 'A history of diprotodont research down-under'; 'Historic advances in meteoritics in Australia and Antarctica'; 'James Dwight Dana and Sydney Basin Geology'; 'Griffith Taylor and his views on race, environment and settlement, and the peopling of Australia'; 'The uranium rush - northwest Queensland, 1953'; 'W.N. Benson and the Great Serpentine Belt'; 'Ludwig Becker'; 'Geology on the Western Front, 1916-19'; 'Rev W.B. Clarke correspondence'.

- see also Macleay Museum notes

AAHPSSS Annual Conference

That's the thing with annual conferences, they're on every year... In 1994 the Australasian Association for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science Annual Conference will be held at Griffith University in sunny Queensland. Papers are being organised under six headings, four on special topics, a postgraduate section, and a 'catch-all' section. Offers of papers, with 200 word abstracts, should reach the section organisers listed below by 15 April.

For registration and other information contact John Forge, the Conference Secretary.

The Horn Scientific Exploring Expedition

A meeting to commemorate the centenary of the Horn Scientific Exploring Expedition to Central Australia will be held at the Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, from Sunday, 25 September to Tuesday, 27 September, 1994.

The Horn Expedition was conducted between May and August 1894 and travelled 2,000 camel miles from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs via the Western MacDonnell Ranges and Uluru before returning to the railhead at Oodnadatta. The objective of the expedition was to undertake a systematic appraisal of the geology, mineral resources, biota and Aboriginal culture of the Centre, and to this end it was composed of scientists with experience in each of these fields. The Expedition was financed by W.A. Horn, a wealthy pastoralist and businessman.

The members of the expedition were the first group of scientists to visit the vast land of Central Australia. Prominent among them were Professor Baldwin Spencer of the University of Melbourne, and Professors Edward Stirling and Ralph Tate of the University of Adelaide, together with Charles Winnecke as leader of the party and several specialist collectors. The Expedition resulted in a four- volume report, edited by Spencer, which is often considered to be the finest contribution to nineteenth-century scientific exploration in Australia, but which today is rare and difficult to obtain. Further, the Expedition led to the meeting of Spencer and Frank Gillen, Officer-in-Charge of the Overland Telegraph Stations at Alice Springs, and thereby to a series of highly significant studies of the Aboriginal people of Central Australia.

The Symposium aims to reassess the significance of the Horn Scientific Exploring Expedition to Central Australia of 1894. It will investigate the contribution that the Expedition made to knowledge of the environment and peoples of the Centre, and re-examine that knowledge in light of current understanding of the environment and cultures of the region. It will explore the changes that have taken place in the landscape and human ecology of the region in the 100 years since that time. It will bring together a wide array of people interested in the history of both the natural and human environments at the heart of Australia.

The meeting will consist of two and a half days of spoken papers, and will begin with a special lecture by Emeritus Professor John Mulvaney, historian and archaeologist and biographer of Baldwin Spencer. It will be divided into at least four sessions: accounts of the Horn Expedition and its social and intellectual background; the evolution and nature of the Central Australian environment; the biota of Central Australia; and human ecology in the Centre. All papers will reflect upon the achievements of the Horn Expedition, and on the changes in our understanding of the natural and cultural environment, or in that environment itself, since 1894.

For further information contact: Steve Morton, CSIRO, PO Box 2111, Alice Springs NT 0871. Ph: (089) 500 143 Fax: (089) 529 587.

Jenner Bicentenary

The Jenner Educational Trust of the Jenner Museum, Berkeley, UK, will be celebrating the bicentenary of Jenner's vaccination of James Phipps on May 14, 1996. Jenner Historical and International Immunology Conferences will be held during this week at Berkeley. Anyone interested in joining an Australian party to these conferences should contact: Professor Tim Murrell, Department of Community Medicine, University of Adelaide, SA 5005.

Third International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Conference

The Third International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Conference will be held at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, from October 27 to November 1, 1995. It follows the very successful First conference held at Tallahassee in 1989, and Second conference held at Kingston in 1992. The conference will be held in association with the US History of Science Society's annual conference, occurring 26-29 October 1995.

The conference organisers are particularly keen to encourage the production of units of work and lessons in the sciences and mathematics that incorporate historical and philosophical themes. It is anticipated that one stream of the conference will be concerned with pedagogical and resource matters. The organisers also encourage the various international and US groups that have interests in the role of HPS in science, mathematics and history teaching to use the conference as an occasion to present their work and to consolidate US and international networks.

For further information or paper proposals contact: Professor Fred Finley, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0208, USA. Fax: 1-612-624 8277. Email: finley@vx.cis.umn.edu.

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