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Science in a Post-Colonial Culture

Roy Johnston

(This paper was published in a somewhat mutilated form in the Irish Review of Spring 1990. What follows is the original paper, over which I stand. The published version I repudiate, in that in the editing it lost its principal message. RJ 4/2/99)


The stimulus for this essay is a reading of the first six issues of The Irish Review, which claims on its title-page to be 'pluralist and interdisciplinary', and to include within its scope 'the arts, society, philosophy, history, politics, the environment and science'.

With the exception of a short statement of the problem by Dorinda Outram (IR 1), there has been no attempt to date to ensure that science is considered in the context of Irish culture. Nor is there any apparent awareness that the process of the transformation of science into useful technology, and the application of technology in the generation of utility, is itself a cultural phenomenon, subject acutely to the constraints of a post-colonial cultural environment.

The present writer attempted to rectify this omission from the Irish cultural canon with an article in The Crane Bag (1), which treated the series of British Association (2) meetings which took place in Ireland as historic snapshots of science and its application in the colonial culture, raising a series of questions regarding the role of the colonial scientific elite in the context of the Irish nation-building process. These questions remain largely unaddressed by historians, or indeed by historians of science, despite their importance in other post-colonial situations such as India, Kenya, Zimbabwe etc.

This article is a second attempt to address the same problem, this time from a contemporary rather than a historical angle.

I propose to begin with two illustrative vignettes, which I hope will help to state the problem. I then go on to comb the issues of IR from the start up to now for illustrative references, or glaring omissions, which fill in the statement of the problem in more detail. I do the same for a recently published book (3) from Manchester aimed at the Irish Studies market.

Coming round to the search for an approach to the solution, I analyse the content of a quarterly published in Britain entitled 'Science as Culture', which addresses the problem as seen from the angle of the imperial heartland. Despite much interesting content, I conclude that this excellent journal has not addressed, and is unlikely to address, the problem as stated.

I go on to suggest that the seeds of the solution to the problem exist but are lying dormant within the sub-cultures of the specialist disciplines of science and technology in Ireland. These seeds need to be planted in the type of soil that IR is cultivating, and made known in the broad national culture, broadening and enriching it.

I go on to suggest how this might be done, with the IR playing a seminal role.

Statement of the Problem

I promised two vignettes. Here is the first one. Think yourself into a company of radical activists, trying to organise a campaign for the defence of national sovereignty against erosion by joining the EEC. Trade unionists, language activists, teachers had come together with a sense of idealism, meeting in a damp basement, which had to be cleaned up and made habitable. There was a fire in the grate, in which we were burning rubbish. We had set mouse-traps, and caught some mice. The question came up, in all seriousness: 'do mice burn?' In other words, was the fire an appropriate place to put their dead bodies? It was, of course, and they were duly cremated.

Think about it, though. Here were people, of the intellectual calibre to develop as leaders of national political movements; some have in fact since become eminent. Mostly about 'two generations off the bog', and having lost the basic craft feel for the properties of organic matter known to their agricultural forbears, they would have been totally dependent on an urban educational system for knowledge, plus of course their own experience. Yet they were unable to make the simple inductive leap from the cremation process (known to them in human culture) to an obvious procedure for getting rid of a dead mouse. We would seem to have here an illustration of the width of the gap between the verbal and the practical cultures.

Second vignette: the present writer was in Kenya, attending a UN conference on 'New and Renewable Energy Sources' (4). This lasted several weeks, and there were weekends. On one weekend, he took up a contact with a mission school in a remote area, with a view to getting a worms-eye view of the post-colonial Kenya scene. The school, as well as teaching basic literacy, taught agricultural practice. Land had been transferred from colonial settlers back to African farmers. The colonial settlers had been competent agriculturalists, practising 'contour ploughing' as an anti-erosion device. When the Africans took over the land, they reverted to ploughing up and down the hills, with the result that the effects of erosion were already visible. Rejection of the colonial culture, it would seem, included blanket rejection of all its aspects, whether good or bad.

This then is the statement of the problem: in a post-colonial situation, how does a government, seeking to assert an independent lead in the development process, ensure that the 'practical arts', needed for mastery of the technology necessary for national survival, are effectively nurtured and embedded in the national culture, after transfer from the colonial elite?

The Problem as seen in 'The Irish Review' to date

Dorinda Outram lectures in the Cork History Dept, and has a background in the history of science from a political angle, with her work on Cuvier and the French Revolution. She is the first academic historian in Ireland to draw attention to the fact that there is in the Republic no official academic recognition of the history of science as a subject. She suggests (IR 1, p45) that to admit to the relevance of history of science in the Irish contest would be '...to challenge the "deep structures" not only of Irish history, but of Irish historical scholarship and of Irish culture.

She goes on: '...the absence of science from the Irish political tradition as a source of ideology points up the isolation of even radical Irish politics from the continental mainstream, where science-as-progress/reason-as-justice has been present ever since the days of Condorcet...'

In reference to John Banville's novels Kepler and Copernicus: '...so peculiar is a culture which deifies history yet yields to literature the vital task of rendering visible heroic models of the scientific pursuit....'. She might here have added that Banville's heroes were mainland European.

She finishes by asking questions: what does it mean to make a career in Irish science? What substantive science has been produced in Ireland? She warns would-be scholars approaching this question that the Faustian paradigm with the 'military-industrial complex' at its core is hardly appropriate. She sketches an alternative paradigm, with 'flash-points' of genius at the European fringe, in the 'late-emerging' European nations; this she prefers to the colonial model appropriate to Canada or Australia.

To this excellent adumbration of the challenge I have not seen any response.

John A Murphy (IR 2, p14) evokes Alfred O'Rahilly's UCC of the 40s. The only reference to science is in the context of O'Rahilly's status as a polymath. No science or engineering students made any impact on the life of the young historian in the Honan Hostel. Yet at this epoch the basis was in process of being laid for the Dairy Science Department; O'Ceallaigh would have been picking up the threads that led to his subsequent work with Powell in Bristol and Occialini in Milan which led to his discovery of the K-particle or heavy meson, on foot of which he succeeded Janossy at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies.

A century earlier, in Boole's time, the Cork bourgeoisie would have had regular access to scientific culture via the Cuverian Society (5). Subsequently (IR 4, p46) John A Murphy develops the theme of the Catholicism of UCC, concentrating on the question of the consistent flouting of the non-denominational statutes, and on the anti-Marxism of Hogan. While all this intellectual froth on the surface was going on, UCC was quietly churning out the dairy engineers and food scientists whose services are now increasingly being recognised as essential to our national survival.

Tom Garvin (IR 3, p1), putting the divorce and abortion referenda in historical context, mentions in passing the '..two-generation-long boycott of the secularised third-level system...commenced by the Catholic Church in 1850... deprived many young Catholics of 3rd-level education between 1850 and 1908... incalculable long-term effects on the political leadership of Catholic Ireland in the early 20th century.'

(Does he here mean the Catholic contribution to the political leadership of Ireland? Or does he define the nation in Catholic terms? This is another day's work.)

Again, the significance of a key factor is missed: 3rd-level education is essential for science and engineering, these being key intellectual resources necessary for an emerging post-colonial nation, every bit as important as political leadership, if not more so.

The consequence of this ban was the almost total absence of any of the leading figures in the national revival from the 1908 British Association meeting in Dublin; the exception was one Edward de Valera, a schoolteacher from Blackrock. David Houston, a botany lecturer in the College of Science, was there also; he subsequently taught science at St Enda's; he had previously developed the first quality control system for Irish butter, servicing Horace Plunkett's co-operative creameries.

(The technology of the War of Independence was however rooted in the College of Science, which was one of a number founded by the British to fill the technology gap detected between them and the Germans, in the lead up to the 1914 war. It churned out chemists who know about explosives, many of whom were employed in the wartime munitions factories. George Lodge, who taught science in St Columba's College in the writer's time there, was of this generation. He had a hand in rescuing Dev from prison in England. His knowledge of science was practical rather than profound, and he came over with a somewhat philistine image. To pick up science from him, one had to be dedicated; some of us succeeded.

Thus the first generation of Catholic Irish scientists to impact on Irish culture were the product of the British war-machine, and via an educational B-stream, on which university graduates would have looked down.)

Michael D Higgins in IR 4 attempts to develop an approach to Regional Policy, in the footsteps of T J Barrington in IR 3. He nods in the direction of the 'regional technopole' concept, though without showing evidence that he had grasped its essence. He calls for '...the location of technology, research and development....(to be) a function of Community Regional Policy rather than a function of stateless capitalist development.'

The essence of the 'technopole model' of regional development is that a region is defined in terms of a hinterland of a 3rd-level college, having a strong research and development component associated with its courses, so that people emerging from its postgraduate schools are in a position to recognise opportunities and become associated with innovative enterprises, catalysing the development of regional economic life. This model was implicit in the decision to found the NIHE in Limerick. The present strong link between the NIHE, now Limerick University, and Shannon Development, our only effective Regional Development Agency, as expressed in the joint management of Plassey Park as an enterprise development area, is an embodiment of the 'technopole model'.

The 'technopole model' has been taken up in Japan in the regional development context, and it underlies the recently-publicised Japanese project initiated by Limerick University.

The present writer has attempted to develop a version of the 'technopole model' which would be appropriate to the scale of regions in Ireland as defined by the Regional Colleges (6). An inadequate attempt was made to popularise this, in the form of a paper to the inaugural meeting of the Constitution Club, in November 1986; this was subsequently published in a Dundalk community enterprise paper (Connections) supported by the Youth Employment Agency.

J W Foster, in his article on 'Culture and Colonisation' (IR 5, p17) shows an awareness of the problem of the emigrant intellectual, but instances only the literary ones, echoing the Irish obsession with Joyce, Shaw and Beckett to the exclusion of Bernal, Tyndall, Parsons etc. Foster, if he has been aware of the importance of innovative enterprise in the Northern culture, undoubtedly would have mentioned Ferguson. He is however aware of Memmi, who has analysed the problem of the North African colonial situation. Like Fanon, these African anti-imperialist political writers are similarly blind to the problem of how the post-colonials can get to master the technology. This problem has been analysed in some depth by Rene Dumont(7), but perhaps because he was of colonial stock his work has not has the attention it deserved from his target readership (can we name this, perhaps, the Horace Plunkett syndrome?).

(Harry Ferguson above is one of the people sketched in the Academy 'People and Places' book (see ref 13 below). In or about 1912 he built an aircraft, and exhibited it in the Sinn Fein Exhibition in Dublin, as an Irish manufacture. He went on to make his name with the Ferguson tractor, the major innovation being the hydraulic power take-off.)

Coming now to IR 6, I have to be critical of Dorinda Outram for dragging in scientific nomenclatures by the hair into contexts where they don't fit. Yes we appreciate the fact that Outram is aware of science, but all things in their place. I refer to her article on the French Revolution (p1): how can the 18th century 'implode' (p2) into the present? Ireland connected with the French Revolution as two points on a 'Mobuis (sic) band' (p4)? Come now; this is pure mystification. It grates with someone for whom a Mobius band (correct spelling this time) and the verb to implode have meanings, and the meanings present no valid illustrative analogies. Not that I am out of sympathy with what she is trying to say. Historians of science, if they have not served their time at the front line in science, should beware of technical jargon. Those who have emerged from science can sometimes use scientific terms creatively, like the way that the 'Heisenberg Effect' has made the leap into management science from its origin in physics. Here the meaning is clear, and is more than analogous: the inability to observe a phenomenon without interfering with it.

Finally, J W Foster in IR 7 manages to cover much ground attempting to define the flavour of Ulster regionalism without mentioning a single name connected with science or scientific technology. Ferguson we have seen as an obvious one, embodying the entrepreneurial aspect; we could add Walton, who helped 'split the atom' in 1932, Kelvin who laid the theoretical basis for the first transatlantic cable in the 1860s, Mac Adamh who designed and produced the 'vortex waterwheel' (ie the water-turbine) to power Ulster's mills (the latter incidentally was a native Irish speaker, and contributed to the early Academy work on the Irish M/S); Annraoi de Paor, Professor of Electrical Engineering in UCD, has written this up in Irish. In contemporary times we could add Dan Bradley, who invented the dye laser; I could go on and on; Traill, who built the first electric tram in the world (it serviced the Giants Causeway for tourists, and was driven by hydro-electric power).

I am not 'blaming' Foster and the other authors mentioned above for these gaps; I am simply drawing to their attention and to the attention of others that their cultural landscape is bounded, and that this is an expression of the problem.

I come now to the Manchester University book (3); this claims to cover colonialism, nationalism and culture; it is by David Cairns and Shaun Richards. It sets out to cover the literary and political aspects, from a constructively critical aspect, and does so rather well.

There is however not a single name in the index having any whiff of a connection with the techno-economics of the national/colonial question, despite this aspect being (in Marxist terms) embedded in its 'basis'. Culture is part of Marx's 'superstructure', but it should of course include 'know-how relating to the working of the productive system' within its ambit. This is what appears to be totally forgotten by all these radical social critics, however much they may pay lip service to Marxist sources and concepts.

Science as Culture

Let me now review the creditable attempt currently being made to address the problem of alienation of science from culture by a group in London known as the Radical Science Collective.

Science as Culture (8) has been coming out twice a year since 1987 from a London address; it is distributed also in the USA, Canada and Australasia. The pilot issue contained a critique of Star Wars which goes further than the usual technical analysis of its infeasibility and takes up the ideological problem of the use of State funding as a control device over the national strategic knowhow.... It also contains articles on community radio in the 80s, on sex selection in India, also an interesting resurrection of an epic poem by Humphrey Jennings, best known as the pioneer of the British documentary film in the 1930s, which celebrated the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, echoing William Blake: excellent raw material for building the cross-cultural bridge in English culture....

The first post-pilot issue, No 1, contains a socio-technical history of video, a critique of the literary magazine Granta (issue no 16) which was devoted to science, analysis of the Savage enquiry regarding childbirth, Chernobyl, exposure of hazardous working conditions in 'chip-factories' and various reviews. It also has an analysis of the West-End play 'Breaking the Code' which was based on Alan Turing and had a 9-months run; the success was due perhaps to the tension engendered by his homosexuality, and curiosity about how the war was won by the Bletchley cryptographers. Turing, by the way, was one of the founding fathers of computing, in apostolic succession from Boole and Babbage.

The article closest to the Irish angle on the problem is by Pam Linn on 'Socially Useful Production' which comes close to debunking the approach, developed by Mike Cooley out of the Lucas Aerospace debacle, which culminated in the Greater London Enterprise Board.... Is this a false trail? We need more analysis here...from the Irish angle.

(There emerged from Lucas Aerospace in the 1960s a 'workers initiative' movement against redundancies which was led by Mike Cooley, from Tuam; this led to the London Technology Networks of the early 80s. Cooley has Swiss engineering qualifications and holds a chair in a German university. He has been trying to develop innovative concepts, like the computer as a labour- enhancer, rather than as a labour replacer or de-skiller. Another case of the Irish innovator only recognised abroad.)

Continuing on the Mike Cooley trail, Issue 3 has an evaluation of the 'Science Shops' movement in France, an attempt by State-paid researchers to bring 'science to the people' which peaked in about 1984... a free service, bridging the culture-gap between the major State laboratories and the general public... another route not to follow? There is a socio-technical analysis of the 'home computing' phenomenon (Sinclair etc), confessions of a scientific gambler, high-tech mining, science-fiction utopias; in the review section there is mention of a book by Richard Warner on mental illness and the Third World which suggests a path worth opening up, in the spirit of Michael D Higgins' pioneering work with the mental patients in the West of Ireland.

We seem to be coming up with a sort of 10 to 20% ratio of material of type relevant to the problem as stated in the Irish context; we will see if this persists. If it does, it will strengthen the argument that our approach should be independent and not derivative.

Les Levidov in Issue 3 addresses the question of non-Western science, putting the current 'Islamic science' red herring in perspective. Renaissance science has roots in Araby, India and the Greeks; a recent book by Martin Bernal (9) (a son of J D Bernal FRS, see below) has traced the trail back to Egypt. Current attempts to rally third-world science around the 'Islamic' concept however are bedevilled by fundamentalist nonsense and are doing the third world a disservice. Also in this issue is a fascinating account of the interaction of technology with music over two centuries, via the design of the piano. There is a critique of Labour science policy, which is accused of being blinkered by a 'Bernalist' optimistic vision, and an impression of the impact of 'glasnost' on science in the USSR.

(J D Bernal FRS, was born in Nenagh 1901, and authored numerous books on the 'science and society' theme; he is practically unknown in Ireland. His main scientific contributions were in crystallography, and he provided techniques enabling the structure of large molecules to be established, using X-rays. He has thus been called the grandfather of molecular biology, if the 'parents' were Watson and Crick).

Sylvania Tomaselli in Issue 4 opens up the feminist angle, leaning somewhat on a recent book by Margaret Alic 'Hypatia's Heritage'. (Hypatia, by the way, flourished in Alexandria in the 4th century AD, and is credited with the status of the first woman scientist; she was murdered by Christian zealots.) There is a vein to be explored here in the Irish context; the Royal Irish Academy's 'People and Places in Irish Science' (10) gives Mary Ball (1812-1898), Mary Ward (1827-1869), Dorothy Price (1890-1954) and Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815). There must have been others; I heard orally an epic involving a Grubb daughter (of the optical family, connected with the Birr telescope and the Rathmines optical works) who became a competent engineer and developed a local hydro-electrical scheme, in pre-ESB days.

Also in the 4th issue are critical articles on the Chernobyl affair, socialist utopias, environmentalism in India; this latter article, by Ben Crow (Open University), opens up several third-world issues with which in Ireland we are familiar (eg location of chemical factories).

The first 1989 issue (no 5) includes an article by Richard Gault attacking Popper's view of nuclear weapons; Gault was in UCG and is now in Amsterdam. There is also an analysis of the thought of Joseph Needham by Joel Kovel from New York, in which he groups him with Bernal, Haldane and the rest of the 1930s scientific Left, and goes on to try to understand how it was possible for such people, who combined a sense of social responsibility with scientific optimism, to be produced in the imperial heartland.

Haldane ended his days in India and Needham in China, so there was a third-world orientation. Bernal, having emerged from Ireland in 1921 (thus being effectively of third-world origin, though from the colonial rather than the native culture) ended his days in England, and his later writings were increasingly obsessed with the third world and the arms race (11).

We have yet to see analysis of the obverse of this process: what happens to scientists and technologists originating in third-world countries? Is there a route for them into appreciation of social responsibility and politicisation, with acceptance into the emerging national culture?

Other material covers current sci-fi utopias, Darwin, the Italian Fiat 'Techno-City' concept, contact lenses, technology assessment....

The latest issue to hand gives a first-hand account of nuclear emergency drill, a critical assessment of the Green movement, scientific jargon, an operative's angle on the operating theatre ('degradation ritual') and a two-sided review of Martin Bernal's Black Athena (9).

To summarise the 'Science as Culture' approach in the context of the problem as stated: it certainly is helping to re-invent the concept of 'social responsibility in science', and to pick up the threads initiated by the 30s pioneers (Bernal et al) which have got lost, or gone underground, during the Cold War and Thatcherite epochs. It is however doing so primarily via the social sciences, and from the imperial heartland. If it were to build up a circulation in Ireland, it might prick the social consciences of a few scientists, and activate them in various positive directions, but it would not steer them towards an understanding of the problem of 'science in a post-colonial emergent nation', nor would it help them towards the generalisation of the Irish experience for the benefit of the Third World.

Where then is Irish scientific culture to be found?

The present writer has on his bookshelf books like Thomas Hankin's life of Hamilton, Patrick Wayman's history of Dunsink Observatory, Norman McMillan's essays on John Tyndall; also the Royal Irish Academy's 'People and Places' (10) which gives some useful starting-points for a lay overview. On the technology side, books like Wallace Clark's 'Linen on the Green', Hogans 'Irish Steel' and Shiel's 'Quiet Revolution' (the latter deals with the ESB and rural electrification in the 50s) are examples which cover some of the ground. The writer has reviewed all the above, but has often wondered how many people bought them, and who they were.

Terence de Vere White's history of the Royal Dublin Society skims somewhat superficially over its role in science and technology in the 19th century; this was significant, and had an interesting political dimension, which has been largely ignored by historians (12). Charles Mollan has published a reference work of all RDS scientific publications (13).

The Royal Irish Academy celebrated its bicentenary in July 1985 with a joint symposium on Science and Institutions in Ireland and Britain. This collected together papers on the early British Association (2), G F Fitzgerald, Thomas Preston, Kirwan, the Guinness firm, Schroedinger and others, a useful though far from complete compendium of the high points of 200 years of Irish scientific activity. The proceedings were however never published, and the reason given was that all the papers were published elsewhere, in various journals of the history of science, presumably in the US and the UK.

(G F Fitzgerald (1851-1901), scientifically related to Maxwell and Einstein, played an important part in the controversies relating to the role of the religious in the management of the educational system. He was also active in the defence of the RDS relative to the Academy. He was an ardent Unionist, but his educational and scientific interests were national in the true sense. There is unfinished business here. How would Parnell have dealt with him, had Home Rule gone through?

Thomas Preston was the first UCD physics professor, moving there from TCD.

Kirwan flourished in the 1790s; he was associated with the RDS; de Vere White (13) treats him unsympathetically.

Modern industrial statistics originated with Guinness; 'student', of t-test fame, was F W Gossett, who was head brewer in the 1900s.

Walter Moore's recent biography of Schroedinger (published by Cambridge UP) gives insights into the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies of the 1940s and 50s. The interaction between the Universities, the Academy and de Valera in the process of foundation of the DIAS is worth some historical analysis.)

It could be argued from this that the Academy has abandoned any pretensions towards being a national centre for scientific culture, and is sinking into provincialism. Is anyone prepared to make the contrary case, and in a form such as to enable those seeking to focus Irish cultural identity, in publications such as 'The Irish Review', to be made aware of the scientific strand in Irish culture?

An attempt (14) was made in 1988 on an ad-hoc basis to redress this situation, with the publication of the proceedings of an international symposium on the History of Science in Ireland which took place in TCD in March 1986. This was contributed to by various Irish historians of science working from abroad, as well as by Irish-based scientists working in marginal time. Its scope is greater than the Academy conference, and at least it got published, though not very accessibly.

The present writer has attempted to make a small contribution to the discussion by the process of seeking to encourage the reviewing of books of Irish scientific interest in publications which seek a wider lay public (eg, The Irish Times, or Books Ireland). For a period (1970-76) he ran a science and technology column in the Irish Times, and this did achieve some raising of the consciousness. In the early 80s, feeling that there should be a market for some of the ideas initiated in the Irish Times column, he put the material together into a book, and sought a publisher, though without success.

The problem remains unresolved. There are 'islands' of Irish scientific culture, exemplified perhaps by the articles by Annraoi de Paor of UCD in the Bulletin of the Solar Energy Society, which are read by a handful of enthusiasts, but of which the general lay public would never have the slightest inkling.

Historians interested in the question of Irish national identity could mine these 'islands' with profit, as some of them touch on key issues relating to religion, language, entrepreneurship and Northern industry. Similarly the Institution of Engineers of Ireland (IEI) has hosted a lecture by Robert Jacob on Irish industrial history and the role of the Quakers, though I have not seen this material published. However, the Institution of Engineers of Ireland does house an important archive of industrial history, an integral part of Irish culture remaining to be tapped systematically by historians.

A step in the direction of a solution would be the funding of a post in a University, or College of Technology, possibly of the status of a Research Fellowship, with terms of reference appropriate to the task of assembling an index of the existing scattered centres of archive material, focusing interest, publishing and popularising the scientific and technological component in Irish culture, making it available in a form accessible to, and understood by, mainstream historians who hitherto have been only aware of the political, and marginally, the economic, components.

This would appear to be a valid opportunity for worthy investment of the funds raised by the National Lottery and administered by the Heritage Council.

Notes and References

1. Crane Bag, Forum Issue, Vol 7 no 2, 1982; p58, Roy Johnston, Science and Technology in Irish National Culture.

2. The British Association for the Advancement of Science met in Ireland in 1835, 1843, 1853, 1857, 1874, 1878, 1902, 1908, 1952 and 1957; proceedings are available.

3. Writing Ireland: Colonialism, Nationalism and Culture; David Cairns and Shaun Richards, Manchester University Press 1985.

4. Renewable Energy Ireland, ed R H W Johnston; Irish United Nations Association, 1981 (a report summarising the Irish contribution to the UN Conference on New and Renewable Energy Sources, Nairobi, August 1981).

5. There is a chapter by Desmond MacHale, in the conference proceedings edited by J Nudds et al (see ref 14 below), on George Boole's scientific work in Cork, with a reference in it to the Cuverian Society, which grew out of the Royal Cork Institution, and was a window for the Cork bourgeoisie into contemporary scientific thinking.

6. R H W Johnston; consultancy reports 1984-87, produced for the Youth Employment Agency, the National Enterprise Agency and Shannon Development on various aspects of the role of Colleges of Technology in regional employment-generating initiatives.

7. Rene Dumont, l'Afrique Noir est Mal Parti, editions du Seuil, 1962.

8. Science as Culture; Free Association Books, 26 Freegrove Rd, London N7 9RQ.

9. Martin Bernal's Black Athena (Free Association Books, 1989) makes the case that the pioneering role of Greece was largely a fabrication of German nationalism of the early 19th century, and that Greek science was mostly imported from Egypt.

10. People and Places in Irish Science and Technology: published by the Royal Irish Academy in 1985, and edited by Charles Mollan, William Davis and Brendan Finucane. This contains 40 people and 14 places, with a page or two each.

11. J D Bernal, 'World Without War', R & K-P 1958, contains all the key ideas of the current 'disarmament and development' movement, though some of the technology is dated.

12. cf Norman McMillan in the Carlow RTC for insights into early RDS history, particularly the French influence in the revolutionary period.

13. Nostri Plena Laboris: Charles Mollan's author index of all RDS scientific papers from 1800 to 1985; this could be an important source-book.

14. Science in Ireland 1800-1930: Tradition and Reform; ed John Nudds, Norman McMillan and Susan McKenna Lawlor; TCD Physics Dept 1988.

Note on the Author

Dr Roy H W Johnston graduated in physics from TCD in 1951, working subsequently with Louis Leprince-Ringuet in the Paris Ecole Polytechnique, and then with O'Ceallaigh in the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies; he then switched in 1960 to industrial process work in England, returning to Ireland in 1963 where he worked with the Aer Lingus real-time computer project. In 1970 he went into Operations Research consultancy, and worked for some time at the university-industry interface, mainly TCD. He is currently involved in several commercial specialist software development projects.

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