History of Australian Science Newsletter

No. 32, March 1994


Kathleen Ralston, A Man for Antarctica: The Early Life of Phillip Law, Hyland House, South Melbourne, 1993, 236 pages, hardcover, illustrated, $29.95.
This book covers the first part of Phil Law's career from his childhood and early education, through to the establishment of Australia's first permanent station on the Antarctic continent, Mawson, in February 1954. It is a detailed study that seeks to trace Law's abilities as a great leader and effective administrator.

[BW photo]At the launch of the book On the Edge of Discovery, Chris Schacht (the tall one in the middle) posed with a number of Australian women scientists - (from l eft) Jean Laby, Edna Sharp, Chris Blackall, Alvie Wilmot, Sophie Ducker, Edna Heggey and Beth Caldicott. Photography courtesy of UniNEWS. (54kb jpeg.)

Farley Kelly (ed.), On the Edge of Discovery - Australian Women in Science, Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, 1993, 348 pages, softcover, illustrated, $16.95.
This book was planned as part of the Centenary Celebrations of the First Woman Graduate from the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne. Not suprisingly, therefore, the contents do concentrate on Melbourne women in science, rather than `Australian women in science' as the subtitle suggests. However, a number of important issues are raised about women's participation in science over the past hundred years.

The first half of the book includes a series of historical studies ranging from Sara Maroske's survey of Australian women workers in science in the 19th century, through to Linden Gillbank's account of Maisie Fawcett's research on the Bogong High Plains. The second half offers more contemporary assessments of gender issues relating to the nature of science, and science education.

Thomas Tooth, It Was All a Matter of Time, published by the author, PO Box 379, Katoomba, NSW, 156 pages, softcover, $14.95.
Tom Tooth's new book, It was all a matter of Time, is a fascinating account of the connections between astronomy, navigation, chronology and the early exploration of Australia.

Prior to the invention of the marine chronometer (a very accurate type of clock) in the mid-1700s, navigating the world's seas was a treacherous and, to some extent, a hit-and-miss affair. The problem lay in knowing your exact location.

It was all a matter of Time explains the various methods proposed to deal with the problem of longitude, and describes the people involved in the chase - people like Nevil Maskelyne, Isaac Newton, Edmund Halley, James Cook, Matthew Flinders, and early clock-makers John Harrison, Larcum Kendall, John Arnold and Thomas Earnshaw.

Having covered the early history of chronometer development, Tooth goes on to describe the first voyages on which chronometers were used, and how they revolutionised navigation.

Throughout the book there is a common thread - chronometer No. E520, one of Thomas Earnshaw's, used by Flinders and one of the most travelled of all the chronometers. It was all a matter of Time concludes with the story of how the author accidently 'discovered' E520 in a case in the Powerhouse Museum, and set about tracing its recent history. Through his efforts, the tale of E520 was completed, almost two hundred years after it began.

- Extracted from a review by Jonathan Nally, Sky & Space, December 1993, p.63.
D.E. Goddard and D.K. Milne (eds), Parkes - Thirty Years of Radio Astronomy, CSIRO Australia, 1994, 162 pages, hardcover, illustrated.
This book was produced as a permanent record of a symposium held on 22 November 1991 at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory to celebrate the Parkes radio telescope's 30th birthday. Many of those involved in the development of the Parkes telescope attended, and the result is an enjoyable collection of technical and scientific history, intermingled with personal reminiscences.

The major areas of research undertaken at the Parkes Observatory are covered, but so are the less well documented 'near disasters', and other aspects of observatory life such as 'The North Goobang Philosophical Society'. Particularly enjoyable is 'When I look back - A forum', described as 'a free-for-all, light-hearted, and often boisterous, discussion'. The book is well illustrated with a large number of photographs, often with fun captions. Parkes - Thirty Years of Radio Astronomy stands nicely alongside Peter Robertson's Beyond Southern Skies, adding to the human dimension of the story.

The book can be ordered from Vicki Smith, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility, PO Box 76, Epping, NSW 2121. Cost is $20, plus postage of $5 (NSW and ACT), $6 (elsewhere in Australia), or $15 (overseas). Cheques should be made payable to CSIRO Australia National Telescope Facility. Inquiries should be directed to Vicki Smith at the above address, or via email to vsmith@atnf.csiro.au.

Maureen Lambourne and Christine E. Jackson, Mr Prince: John Gould's Invaluable Secretary, Centre for Bibliographical and Textual Studies, Monash University, 1993, $8.00 (including postage and packing).
This is Number 4 in the series Naturae, 'an occasional publication touching broadly upon the history, literature, biography, bibliophily, and fine art of natural history'. Edited by A.R. McEvey, Hon. Curator Emeritus, Museum of Victoria. Available from: The Centre for Bibliographical and Textual Studies, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3168, ph. (03) 905 2959, fax (03) 905 2952.

John Joyce, The Story of the RAAF Meteorological Service, METARCH Papers No. 5, Bureau of Meteorology, October 1993. This history was written in the early 1980s by a former member of the RAAF Meteorological Service, and has been published by the Bureau of Meteorology after editing by W.J. Gibbs.

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