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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

1132nd General Monthly Meeting

"Rev. W. B. Clarke - 19th century polymath and his scientific correspondence"

Dr Ann Moyal AM

Wednesday 2 February 2005, 6.30 pm
Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre.

ABSTRACT

The Rev William Branwhite Clarke, Australia's pioneer geologist, Anglican clergyman, scientific savant and pioneer, was one of the key figures of Australian nineteenth-century science. He flourished at a time when science was both the province of the independent and private investigator and as it moved towards a growing professionalism and institutionalisation. He served as an influential Council member of the Philosophical Society from its foundation in 1850 and as its Vice-President in 1858. In 1866, he was a key mover behind the foundation of that Society's successor, The Royal Society of New South Wales, and served as its inaugural and influential Vice-President for seven years.

Clarke took a striking role in the reception of Darwin's Origin of the Species in Australia. Like the majority of British scientists in 1860, colonial scientists admired Darwin as a naturalist, but detested the implication of his evolutionary ideas. The Clarke-Darwin correspondence is a testament to Clarke's open-mindedness. In turn Darwin absorbed Clarke's notes in later editions of The Origin, and served as one of Clarke's sponsors in his election to The Royal Society in 1876.

One of Clarke's lasting memorial remains with the Royal Society of New South Wales. Late in 1878, The Royal Society of New South Wales struck the Clarke Medal as the first scientific medal to be issued in the Colonies. The annual award honours work in the natural sciences in Australia.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

Dr Moyal is a leading historian of Australian Science, a graduate of the University of Sydney and a Doctor of Letters from the Australian National University. She is the author of many books and papers. Dr Moyal spoke on the topic of her book that was recently launched at the State Library: The Scientific Correspondence of the Rev. W B Clarke, Australia's Pioneer Geologist.

Report on the General Monthly Meeting

Dr. Moyal remarked that the Rev. W. B. Clarke would have been delighted that the Society he did so much to establish had survived to its 1132nd monthly meeting. The full text of her address will appear in a coming issue of the Society's Journal, and an extensive abstract appeared in the last Bulletin, so a brief note will suffice here.

A strong sense of history, which led W B Clarke to carefully preserve all his voluminous correspondence, has established him as a very important figure in the development of science in Australia. It also shows that far from being a parochial outpost of empire we were doing scientific work of international significance even in the 19th century.

He supported young scientists at the period when science was making the difficult transition from amateur to professional and was influential with Governors and the Establishment.

His creed for the society is perhaps even more needed today than it was then: "We must strive to discern clearly, understand fully, and report faithfully, to adjure hasty theories, and unsupported conjectures; where we are in doubt, not to be positive."

Sydney Meetings - 2005

​Wednesday
2nd February

Rev. W. B. Clarke - 19th Century Polymath and his Scientific Correspondence

Dr Ann Moyal AM

Time: 7.00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre.

Dr Moyal will speak on the topic of her book that was recently launched at the State Library: The Scientific Correspondence of the Rev. W B Clarke, Australia's Pioneer Geologist. As most members will also be aware, The Rev. W.B. Clarke was an early founding member of the Society and served as inaugural and an influential Vice President for seven years.
​Wednesday
23rd February

​Four Societies Meeting: Geothermal Energy in Australia

Dr Doone Wyborn

The Four Societies Meeting is a meeting of the Nuclear Engineering Panel of Engineers Australia, Australian Institute of Energy, Australian Nuclear Association and
the Royal Society of NSW.

Time: 7.00 pm
Venue: Harricks Auditorium, Ground Floor, Eagle House, 118 Alfred Street, Milsons Point.

This year the Four Societies Meeting will be separate from our February 1132nd General Meeting above and will be hosted by Engineers Australia. Dr Doone Wyborn, Executive Director, Geodynamics has agreed to be the Guest Speaker on the topic of Geothermal Energy in Australia. Geodynamics have drilled one well in the Cooper Basin of South Australia to a depth of 4.5 km, intersecting rock in excess of 240C, and have a second well underway. They expect to start production in 2006.
​Wednesday
11th March

​The Royal Society of New South Wales Annual Dinner

Time: 7.00 for 7.30 pm
Venue: Forum Restaurant, Darlington Centre, Sydney University (City Road)

The Society's Patron, His Excellency, Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (ret'd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, presented the 2004 Awards.
​Wednesday
6th April

A Hundred Years after Einstein's Extraordinary Year

The Annual General Meeting and the 1133rd Ordinary General Meeting

The President, Ms Karina Kelly, will deliver the Presidential Address

Time: 7.00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road
​Wednesday
4th May

Biocosmology: a New Science

Dr Charley Lineweaver, Senior Fellow Planetary Science Institute, Australian National University

Time: 7.00 pm (bar open from 6.00 pm)
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road
​Wednesday
1st June

Bactrian Camels in Antiquity

Prof. Dan Potts,
Edwin Cuthbert Hall Professor of Middle Eastern Archaeology, University of Sydney

Time: 7.00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road
​Wednesday
6th July

Why did the Vertebrate Brain Become Lateralised?

Professor Lesley Rogers, Professor of Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour, University of New England

Time: 7.00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road
​Wednesday
3rd August

Tails of Dingoes: their Past and their Future

Dr Alan Wilton,
School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of NSW

Time: 7.00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road
​Wednesday
7th September

​Clarke Memorial Lecture and 1138th Ordinary General Meeting

The Ediacara and its Fauna

Professor Pat Vickers-Rich, School of Geosciences, Monash University

Time: 6.00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road
​Wednesday
5th October

TB: A New Vaccine and Some Observations on the Influence of Genetics

Professor Warwick Britton, Head, Mycobacterial Research Group, Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology, University of Sydney

Time: 6.00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road
​Wednesday
2nd November

The Role of DNA studies in the Story of Human Evolution

Dr Sheila van Holst Pellekaan,
Visiting Senior Research Fellow, University of NSW

Time: 6.00 pm
Venue: Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road

Royal Society events

The Royal Society of NSW organizes a number of events in Sydney throughout the year.  These include Ordinary General Meetings (OGMs) held on the first Wednesday of the month (there is no meeting in January).  Society business is conducted, new Fellows and Members are inducted, and reports from Council are given to the membership.  This is followed by a talk and optional dinner.  Drinks are served before the meeting.  There is a small charge to attend the meeting and talk, and to cover refreshments.  The dinner is a separate charge, and must be booked in advance.  All OGMs are open to members of the public.

The first OGM in February has speakers drawn from the Royal Society Scholarship winners, and the December OGM hears from the winner of the Jak Kelly award, before an informal Christmas party.  The April or May event is our black-tie Annual Dinner and Distinguished Fellow lecture.

Other events are held in collaboration with other groups, including:

  • The Four Societies lecture (with the Australian Institute of Energy, the Nuclear Panel of Engineers Australia [Sydney Division] and the Australian Nuclear Association)
  • The Forum (with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia)
  • The Dirac lecture (with UNSW Australia and the Australian Institute of Physics)
  • The Liversidge Medal lecture (with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute)
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