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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 5. May 7, 1946


The following is Prof. J. B. S. Haldune's account of a visit he paid to France early this year. He visited many prominent scientists, and newly founded scientific institutions.

In England and America many biologists were engaged in research which was, or at least might be, useful for war. In Prance it was a point of honour to publish nothing which could help the Germans, even by such indirect means as increasing the food supply. So much of the science was very "pure" indeed.

To take a few examples, M. Chauvin produced an instrument for automatically recording the activity of a single ant. M. Lwoff worked out the vitamin requirements of bacteria, while M. Dechambre proved that the reindeer is the least variable of domestic animals, and produced a theory as to why this was so.

The French are reorganising their scientific research under the Centre Nationale des Recherches Scientifiques. This body has taken over many of the functions which the Academy of Science was originally meant to perform. But the Academy, like the Royal Society in London, now consists largely of men who are past their prime and it has been necessary to appoint a younger body. To judge from the way in which it organised my visit, the Centre is a pretty efficient organisation. A particular feature of its activity is the training of young research workers. This is intended to include a year broad, so I am looking forward to having some young French colleagues in my laboratory a year hence. If every British research worker could spend a year in foreign laboratories it would certainly broaden our scientific outlook considerably.