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Science and the making of VictoriaRoyal Society of Victoria
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The Royal Society's Place in Science


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The Royal Society's Place in Science (continued)

The Royal Society of Victoria began its life 200 years later, in Melbourne's young days. Its members may still have thought that it was possible to cover the whole scientific world, though I don't think they could have hoped for a very high standard. This Society has never been exclusive like the original Royal Society of London. Anyone can join who pays the subscription, though of course most of the members hold University degrees in science. Some of you will have listened to talks during the last few weeks about some of the men of last century who were associated with the Royal Society of Victoria. Their stories give an impression of picturesque or tragic men or events, but of course the Royal Society of Victoria after a few years had settled down in an uneventful way to be what it is still partly today. The scientific community of Victoria numbers certainly less than 1 per cent of the world's scientists, and their work is just a small part of the world's progress in science. But there is one area of scientific work where the local worker is the world's great expert, and that is on the problems of our own country which could be of some naturally occurring animal or plant or fungus, or a study of fossils, or geology or ecology - anything in what we call the natural sciences. So the other scientists, chemists and physicists and so on, went away to their own groups, and local natural scientists became the centre of the Society's work, there were monthly meetings at which members presented papers that usually were extremely interesting to three or four or five other members, but not to the others; the others would just wait impatiently for their turn to talk about their own line, much like a group of men telling each other stories and each one not listening to the rest but waiting for his own turn.

People in Bright Sparcs - Leeper, Geoffrey Winthrop

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Leeper, Geoffrey Winthrop 1960 'The Royal Society's Place in Science', typescript, Royal Society of Victoria papers, State Library of Victoria, MS 11663, item 35/6.

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