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The Royal Society's Place in Science


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The Royal Society's Place in Science (continued)

Today the Royal Society of Victoria is trying to interest its members more widely, and this is a major theme, tonight. Not all good scientific work is specialist. There are many fields of work where one needs to know something of say four or five specialties. This is most of all so in dealing with living things. Anyone in the world of agricultural science like myself is aware of how many bits of specialties contribute to one's knowledge. If one is dealing with a deficiency disease of a plant or an animal one may call on a chemist, a botanist, a geneticist, a physiologist in turn in order to understand the problem. The problem in the real world is complex. The specialist of course has to isolate his problem from the rest of the confusing world in order to understand it at all, but when we have his contribution there is an important place also for the more general worker. An example of the more general interests of our Royal Society was seen in our meeting at the end of last year to celebrate the centenary of Darwin's great book, The Origin of Species, when we had speakers and contributors from a dozen fields of biology.

The scientist whose work is made up of several subjects or overlaps with several, must of course be interested in each of these. But even the specialist who apparently has not got to know anything outside his subject will do his special job better if he does. We can get new ideas of how to tackle a job by seeing someone else tackle another, which may not be like our own, and asking ourselves whether we can apply that idea or that gadget in a different form.

People in Bright Sparcs - Darwin, Charles; 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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