Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol 6, No. 5. May 5, 1943
Science and the Community
Science and the Community
To see "science at work" I advise a tour of the Dominion Laboratory, no further away than Sydney Street, Wellington, where, uninviting in appearance and inefficient in some respects though it may be, chemists are working hard for the benefit of the community. Tinned and other foods are analysed in search of hidden defects; experiments are made with and tests on paint, investigating endurance and other qualities; improvements in quality and uses of bitumen are tried; these are only three of the thousand and one problems tackled by the Dominion Laboratory.
Across the road is the Fisheries Laboratory, where the habits of New Zealand's economically important and other fishes are studied. To the superficial observer, an examination of the life history and habits of the cod, for instance, may appear a waste of time, but it is this research which enables our supplies of eating fish to be maintained. The Agriculture Department is also close by. There we find the discoveries of soil deficiencies, the experimenter in suitable and productive varieties of grain for this country, and those attempting to establish the best grasses for the beat area for the best result.
Further up the road is the Soil Survey. How ludicrous to some is the sight of a man filling a small bag with soil from a field: but only [unclear: it] thorough chemical investigation is it possible to give reasons for the deterioration in productive capacity of a certain area, and suggest preventive or curative measures. In the Plant Research Bureau are investigated diseases of wheat and other economically important plants. A recent result of this department's work is the production from seaweed of the Jelly-like Agar, used mainly for bacteria cultures and in the canning of meat.
Out of the city, at the Wallaceville Laboratory, great work is being done investigating animal diseases, experimenting with foods, etc., all with good facilities and equipment.
And so, even in the comparatively inefficient Government Departments, we see new scientists play their part in the community. Only by patient research can results be obtained. Little does the layman realise the time and labour and patience behind the modern conveniences of today; the countless trials and failures and trials and failures before success is achieved. In the end, a new disease-preventing compound may be discovered, a suitable insect parasite to prey on another insect pest is found, the reason tor a wheat crop failure is no longer a mystery.
The scientist carries out his responsibilities to the [unclear: fast]. The layman does not see the work, he only sees the result.