Notes

    Abstract

    ONE good purpose served by the movement referred to last week (p. 419) to commemorate the 3ubilee of the discovery of the first artificial coal-tar colour by Dr. Perkin is that public attention has been directed to the relations between scientific research and industrial progress. The complete lack of sympathy between the capitalist in this country and the scientific worker, largely due to the indifference shown by statesmen to scientific studies, has been persistently deplored in these columns for many years; and we are glad that the general public is now being enlightened as to the results of neglect of scientific research. The coal-tar industries, founded upon an essentially British discovery, have been lost to us, and are now represented in Germany by two industrial groups which, with a capital of 50,000,000l., can pay dividends of from 20 per cent. to 30 per cent. per annum. Prof. S. P. Thompson, in a letter to Saturday's Times, refers to this lost industry, and shows that the electrical industry and the manufacture of steel must pass to other countries unless our manufacturers realise the industrial value of higher technical education and scientific research. “Pioneering,” he remarks, “as it is understood in an electrical factory in the United States or in Germany, is now almost non-existent in England; and the result on the electrical industry in the next ten years must be simply disastrous. Where are the newer kinds of electric lamps being developed? The Nernst lamp, the flame lamp, the vapour lamp, the oxide lamp, the osmium lamp, the tantalum lamp, all rich in future possibilities, where are they being perfected? Not in England. I doubt if there is a single British firm that is spending on such development a tenth part of the sum that one single American firm is spending on this one thing alone. If we cease to pioneer we become mere followers at a distance of those who are going forward—ourselves cease to lead in the development of the industry.” To save our country from future disaster, our commercial and educational leaders, and our statesmen, must realise the vital nature of scientific research to national prosperity, and act upon this conviction by making adequate provision for it.

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