No. 35, August-Sept. 1995 ISSN 0811-4757Edited and published by Tim Sherratt (Tim.Sherratt@asap.unimelb.edu.au) for ASAP.
Dorothy Goddard and Raymond Haynes (eds.), Pioneering a New Astronomy: Papers in memory of John G. Bolton, a special issue of the Australian Journal of Physics (vol.47, no.5, 1994), available from the CSIRO Bookshop, PO Box 89, East Melbourne, VIC, 3002 @ $49.00.
Peter Robertson's Beyond Southern Skies and Goddard and Milne's Parkes - Thirty years of Radio Astronomy have recently refocussed attention on the important history of Australian astronomy, and this collection of papers, presented at the John G. Bolton Memorial Symposium held at the Parkes Observatory in December 1993, now adds to this splendid record.
The collection is divided into several sections: an Introduction, including the Eulogy to Bolton by Paul Wild; Reminiscences of Bolton by Wild, Price, Manchester, Dinn and Gascoigne; eleven Historical Contributions of considerable substance and interest; and six Research Contributions related to areas of astronomy to which Bolton made major contributions.
In dedicating a small garden and a sundial at Parkes to Bolton's memory, Wild said, in part,
We are gathered here to pay tribute to a very special man. I think that John Bolton will be remembered first and foremost for his contributions to astronomy and to human knowledge. He was the pioneer of extragalactic radio astronomy, and therefore also the person who set off the great revolution in astronomy which has occupied the second half of the 20th century. In that revolution, astronomers have studied, and opened up, the far regions of the Universe by discovering galaxies and objects of extremely high energy and luminosity.
This collection of papers is part of a fitting tribute to one of Australia's most important and influential scientists in the second half of the 20th century.
- John Jenkin, La Trobe University.
Howard McKern, William Mogford Hamlet 1850-1931. Sydney: 1995. viii + 67pp., illus., $14.99 from Abbey's Bookshop, Sydney.
Early in 1887, William Hamlet was appointed NSW Government Analyst, a position he occupied with credit for 30 years until his retirement in 1916.
Born in England, Hamlet had trained as a chemist at the Bristol Trade and Mining Schools, the Bristol Chemical Laboratory and the Royal College of Chemistry, London, and had established an analytical chemistry business in King's Lynn. Later he had moved to London, to work for Messrs Watney & Co., brewers and distillers, in 'research on yeast, alcohol, beer and its diseases'.
In 1881, Harnlet sailed to Surinam in South America, as chemist to a gold mining venture, although his duties were primarily surveying and managerial rather than chernical. Severe attacks of 'swampy malarial fever' followed, and Hamlet returned to Britain. His doctors advised migration to a warmer climate; Sydney was his Choice
As NSW Government Analyst, Hamlet had many responsibilities - for forensic investigations, public health and the safety of available kerosene, among others -but public health was the most demanding: 'the state of public health in Sydney during the closing decades of the nineteenth century was appalling, particularly with respect to its water supply, sewage disposal, foodstuffs and medicinal preparations...' Hamlet also had wide cultural and recreational interests.
This pleasantly presented and illustrated review of Hamlet's life has been prepared and privately published by Howard (Flamlet Gordon) McKern, principally because 'although he has received an entry in the ADB Biographical Register, ... Hamlet has been omitted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography itself'. It is a story well and usefully told, of a period in Australian science still offering new vistas and new insights.
- John Jenkin, La Trobe University.
John Wisdom, A History of Defence Science in Australia, DSTO, 1995. While it's pleasing to see defence science receiving historical attention, this is a rather disappointing book. It seems odd that a book like this could be written without any reference to Peter Morton's Fire Across the Desert. My confidence was further shaken when, upon turning to the section on the British atomic tests I read:
The Australian population remained unaware of the event at the time when a test was conducted in the Monte Bello Islands in October 1952.
Sorry? I have copies of the front pages of various Australian newspapers at the time which tell a rather different story! Once again, there are no references here to any of the detailed historical work that has already been done on the atomic tests. This seems to indicate that the author worked from a rather limited range of sources, though there are many references to archival material. If you're interested in a summary of Australian defence science projects, this book will be useful, but a history of defence science in Australia it is not.
- Tim Sherratt
[ Contents | Previous article | Next article | HAST | ASAPWeb ]