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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 13

I Colonial Origins

II First World War

III Between The World Wars

IV The Second World War
i Optical Munitions
ii Aircraft
iii Armour
iv Radar
v Tropic Proofing

V Post-second World War

VI After The Joint Project

VII Science And Decisions At The Top

VIII Armed Services Technology

IX New Tasks And Projects

X Transfer Of Research And Development

XI Acknowledgement



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Optical Munitions (continued)

In another thrust at the materials problem, the Advisory Committee on Optical Materials, led by Professor E. J. Hartung, in conjunction with Australian Consolidated Industries (ACI), set to work to make optical glass from indigenous materials. Overseas opinion was that the project was wasteful and would take four years. No assistance was given by British and American industry; the only help came from the National Bureau of Standards of the U.S.

It was necessary to find not only pure sand, but also a whole series of pure ingredients, including clays for the pots. In spite of the lack of help, the first pour of borosilicate glass was made just ten months after the start, compared with the predicted four years, and at 6 per cent of the cost predicted by the overseas manufacturers.

Many optical devices were designed and tested. The Optics Section at MSL was the focus for technique and prototype testing. The Commonwealth Solar Observatory became a major glass working centre. At the National Standards Laboratory Dr Briggs participated in the measurement of optical parameters, and in other design work. The University of Sydney designed and produced the ring-sight telescope -a very complex piece of optics which functioned as a sort of optical predictor -and refurbished about 10,000 binoculars. The University of Tasmania (Professor A. L. McAulay and E. N. Waterworth) handled particularly the manufacture of high precision prisms.

The scientists were subjected to several disappointments through the cancellation of orders from the Services, but there were more successes than failures, and optical devices designed and made in Australia were used by Allied Forces.

After the end of the War in spite of the scientific and industrial successes, the Government decided that an optical industry was not viable and refused support, the only parts that continued were the Hobart annexe (sold to Waterworth) and the research in universities, the CSIRO, and the MSL.

Maintenance on a small scale of the MSL expertise was to provide a firm base for the metrology work (which continued) but more importantly for the optical work at the Long Range Weapons Establishment, and for the important laser work which would be established later.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Consolidated Industries (A.C.I.); Commonwealth Solar Observatory; Long Range Weapons Establishment (L.R.W.E.); Munitions Supply Laboratories (M.S.L.), Optics Section; National Standards Laboratory; University of Tasmania

People in Bright Sparcs - Briggs, Dr G. H.; McAulay, Prof. A. L.; Waterworth, E. N.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 931, Online Edition 2000
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