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Wednesday, 30 June 1937

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - I should like to see the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research formulate a scheme to enable the lay thinker and innovator to register his discoveries in science, or matters closely allied to it.

Senator Collings - The honorable senator would open the. door to all the cranks in the country.

Senator ARKINS - I know that that is the objection usually raised, but surely it should be possible to sift the grain from the chaff. The history of science is filled with mistakes of scientific and academic men who have scorned the suggestions of intelligent and inquiring laymen. There were frequent examples of this during the war, and one that comes to my mind is the story told by Sir Phillip Gibbs of the young man who invented the incendiary bullet. He was only a bicycle mechanic, and for twelve months he kept bringing his invention under the notice of the War Office. When he was questioned regarding the principle of his invention, all he was able to say was, "'Dynamite, dynamite!" Ultimately, because of his persistence, the young man received a hearing, and nine months after his first approach to the War Office that body learned from him that if a small quantity of dynamite were placed on a certain part of a bullet, it would explode immediately it touched the lightest fabric, such as silk. That discovery solved the Zeppelin menace over England, and was one of the determining factors in the war. More than likely, the War Office authorities regarded him as a "crank", and, tapping their foreheads, declared that he was mad. The same thing occurred in connexion with the discovery of the army tank by de Mole.

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