SITTINGS IN MELBOURNE,
CUSTOMS DEPARTMENT AND
PROFESSOR DAVID'S ADDRESS.
MELBOURNE. January 7.
The Congress of the Australasian Associa- tion for the Advancement of Science com-
menced its sittings at the University to- day, when 550 delegates were present from the various States of the Commonwealth
and from New Zealand. At,10 o'clock the various section committees settled down to the work of arranging the programme for the week. The principal work trans- acted by these committees was the fixing of the time tables for tho reading of
The general council held its first meet- ing during the morning after the commit- tee meetings, Professor Orrne Masson, the retiring president, being in the chair, Dr H. C. Chapman (New South Wales) pre- sented the balance sheet of the associa- tion, which showed that the total receipts during the last two years had been £1415, and the expenditure £838, leaving a bal- ance of £537 as at June 30, 1912. The amount of £525 for the Mawson expedi- tion was set down in the research fund, which showed a credit balance of £3332. Subject to the approval of the auditor, the balance sheet was adopted by the council Dr. H. C. Chapman dirccted attention to the obstacles placed by the Customs De- partment in the way of research work by the demands for duty on scientific appara-
tus. He moved that a committee of the association should be formed to ínquire into the matter and approach the Min- ister for Customs with a request that the tariff should be administered in the spirit in which it was framed and scientific ap- paratus should be admitted free. The
motion was agreed to.
In the afternoon a reception was held by his Excellency the Governor, Sir John Fuller, accompanied by Mr Wilberforce and the President-elect, Prof. T. W. E.
A very large and representative audi- ence assembled in the Wilson Hall in the evening to hear the inaugural address of
the new president (Professor David, of
Professor David said, in his address, that members might express the hope that the Federal Government would see its way to pursue the same enlightened policy it had adopted for the scientific exploration of the Northern Territory and also to British Papua. The oil belt which had
been discovered there was full of possibili- ties, and should the supplies of oil prove
satisfactory would be a boon to the Aus- tralian navy. At the present moment there was no more fascinating field for ex- ploration in the whole world, since the South Pole had become overcrowded, than New Guinea. It was to be hoped that the Commonwealth Government would see its way to have such an expedition organised at an early date, and that when the re- presentatives of the British Association ar- rived here in 1914 there would be a rich harvest of results from the Papuan ex- ploration to lay before them Pro- fessor David proceeded to deal with the expeditions in the Ant- arctics. While there was much sub- ject for congratulation, the fact could not be concealed that the news which the Terra Nova would probably bring about Captain Scott's expedition late in March would be looked for with keenness, tinged by anxiety. There could, in his opinion, be scarcely a shadow of doubt that Cap- tain Scott and his gallant band had, after desperate struggles, reached the South Polo and discovered the tent and flag and other marks that were left by Captain Amundsen. In spite of that small room for anxiety, there was every reason to hope that Captain Scott and all his party,
after accomplishing more scientific work,
such as the rounding of the boundaries
of the great ice barrier, &c, and com-
pleting other scicntfic work in a manner never surpassed or equalled by any pre- vious Antarctic expedition, would all re- turn, like Lieutenant Shackleton's expedi- tion, without the loss of one single life.
Professor David dealt with the expedi- tion despatched under the auspices of the Association of Dr. Douglas Mawson's party. When it was considered that the magnetic lines of force in the Southern Hemisphere were chiefly controlled by this Pole, and that the Pole had un- doubtedly been in movement since its position was theoretically calculated by Sir James C. Ross in 1840, and that upon the trend of these lines depended the various dnrections in which ships' compasses pointed on the Southern seas it would be seen that any advancement of our knowledge of these magnetic con- ditions would not only be of great scien- tific use and necessity, but would also make for very great accuracy and secur- ity in the navigation of the many thou- sands of ships which yearly furrowed the Southern seas. Mr. H. A. Hunt inform- ed him (Professor David) that the wireless weather data which were sent to him from Macquarie Island showed as clear as possible the associations between Com- monwealth weather conditions and those of the sub-Arctic. It was true that Macquarie Island, being west of Sydney,
supplied data of more value for fore-
casting in New Zealand than in Aus-
tralasia, but the data were absolutely essential for a full understanding of Aus- tralian weather conditiona and it was to be hoped that in the near future some joint arrangement might be made between the Australian and New Zealand Govern- ments for the continuous upkeep of this station for the benefit of commerce and science. It was greatly to be hoped that this suggestion would be supported by the Governments concerned. Members of the association would be pleased to hear that a complete wireless receiving outfit had recently been despatched, in charge of Captain Davis, to Addie Land. This should be capable of receiving messages from a distance of fully 2000 miles the transmission of accurate time signals would also much enhance the value of the magnetic and other observations.
From the evidence he had quoted, Pro- fessor David said that the following provi- sional conclusions might be deduced :— 1. That the reason for the great climatic and the biological difference between North and South Poles respectively is mainly geographical, dependent, that is, on the present distribution of land and water, and the modifications which they introduce into the calculations of air and water in either hemisphere. 2. In refer- ence to the control of Australian weather by Antarctica the existence of that large continent with an average elevation of about 6000ft acts is a great refrigerator in the Southern Hemisphere, and causes extremes which would not otherwise exist between south polar and equatorial temperature. This factor tends to increase the rapidity of air circulation in the Southern hemisphere. If the Antarctic continent were entirely removed, and the Southern ocean were continuous over the South Pole Australia and the Southern hemisphere, in general would have a far more equal and monoton- ous climate, with diminished energy of cir- culation in the Southern hemisphere. It is probable that the rainfall of Australia would be diminished. While indirectly we probably owe some of our rainfall to Antarctica, we have less perhaps to thank her for in the way of the icebergs which she annually launches into the Southern
ocean. If Antarctica instead of completely
foundering, were to dissolve into an archi-
pelago of low lying inlands their summer
temperature would be higher than that of Queensland and Grant land, and like them the Antarctic islands would be clothed with hardy forms of plants, amongst which numerous flowers and moses, as well as trees like the South American Tagus, would be included. Meteorology, formerly the Cinderella of the sciences, bids fair to be- come a princess in the near future. I wish strongly to urge that more be done for meteorology in the future. In the first place, steps might be taken to establish at least a few observing stations in the heart of the Australian meteorological desert which lies between Nullagine, in Western Australia, and the Macdonnell Ranges. Next there is the question of in- vestigating the upper atmosphere by means of kites and small balloons carrying detach- able self registering instruments. By these means the neight and movement and temperature of that important isother- mal layer of the atmosphere can also be determined. When we know the forces of nature we have to contend with we may with confidence enter upon the largest engineering schemes, and be tolerably cer- tain of success. Then, too, the question will have to be seriously considered as to whether a permanent wireless meteorological station should not be established at Macquarie Island, or some
other suitable sub-Antarctic island, as al-
ready advocated. This would be a stepping
stone towards eventually establishing a meteorological station in Antaictica.
Professor David explained that there was an allied question, which more imme-
diately concerned phjsical science, but which was also closely connected with meteorology, that of the establishment of a solar physics observatory. It was of the greatest importance to science that the sun be kept under observation for the whole 24 hours of each day, but in the absence of such an observatory in Aus-
tralia there was a big blank in the daily
observations, represented by the distance between India and California, no less than 150deg. longitude. There was every pros- pect of the Federal Government making this solar phjsics observatory an accom- plished fact. The Commonwealth Me- teorological Bureau, with its branches in the various States, now cost £32,000, a small sum considering what vast interests were dependent on the weather. In agri- culture, Professor Watts estuimated that in New South Wales alone, where at present the value of the wheat yield waa about £6,000,000 a year, the existing area under cultivation was capable of having its yield increased by 60 per cent. by more scien- tifie farming, and the whole area might be increased about tenfold, so that New South Wales in the future should produce £90,000,000 where now she is producing £6,000,000. In Victoria, too, the wheat yield could be greatly increased, and the area under cultivation could be perhaps doubled. In South Australia and Western Australia the yield could be greatly in-
creased, and all this wheat-growing in- dustry was of course specially dependent on weather forecasts.