Notes

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    MR. LLOYD GEORGE, the Minister of Munitions, stated in the House of Commons on June 17 that he had been in communication with the Secretary of State for War with reference to the appoinment of a small advisory body of men of science to advise the Government during the continuance of the war as to the fullest employment of all the resources of chemical and mechanical science and invention in aid of military operations. Such a committee, if rightly constituted, should be of service in expressing opinions upon suggested means of offence or defence, but what is wanted is a working department of the War Office to organise and use the scientific and expert knowledge of the country in much the same way as the medical forces have been organised by Sir Alfred Keogh. The leisurely consideration by an advisory committee of proposals placed before it is not appropriate to the times, which demand immediate action by an energetic head who will not only use consultants but also organise scientific men into a corps on special service either at the fornt or at home. Until this is done, it cannot, be suggested that science Is being fully employed in the nation's needs. We referred last week to Mr, H. G. Wells's letter to the Times upon the need for the mobilisation of scientific and expert knowledge to match and overcome like forces arrayed against us by Germany. In a further letter to our contemporary (June 22) Mr. Wells outlines a responsible official bureau having the same constitution and functions as those of the working department suggested above. Such a bureau with a capable director could do for the neglected scientific forces of the country what has already been done for the fighting and the medical forces. By all means let advisory committees be appointed as suggested by Principal Griffiths and Prof. Armstrong, but it is of even greater importance to have a well-informed central office which understands how to make the best use of the specialised knowledge of men of science individually or collectively, and knows the resources of laboratories and institutions available for national service. Sir Thomas Rose, in a letter which appears elsewhere in this issue, has misunderstood Mr. Wells, and our article last week, when he suggests that purely scientific investigation with no definite practical purpose is being urged. Intensive work with a definite object is as much the province of the man of science as of the inventor, and our plea is that such work should be instituted if the nation is to obtain the fullest advantage from scientific men and methods.

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    Notes . Nature 95, 457–462 (1915) doi:10.1038/095457a0

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