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The Structural Engineer

1. Since 1935-in what time I could spare from other things-my thoughts have been directed to one main objective : I have been seeking to extend the range and power of a new technique of numerical computation. It has been, for me, a rather thrilling experience, for in that time, with a small but enthusiastic team, I have gone for harder and yet harder problems without (as yet) meeting any that defied attack. At all times we have been fully extended by our current problem, but looking back on problems solved six months before we have seen them as quite easy though at times laborious. Indeed, the end is now in sight of problems known to me when we started, and still no quite insuperable barrier is apparent. We seem to have found a tool of general utility, and now it seems that what I have to do is different : to interest others in a line of thought which they may find of use, applied to problems that are outside our range of knowledge. Richard V. Southwell

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Author – Southwell, Richard V

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The Structural Engineer

Dr. THOMAS, in his introduction of the paper, commented on the complaint that one sometimes heard, that research workers did not appear anxious to convey to others the knowledge gained by their researches, that they were sometimes reticent; and there was some justification for that. Every new piece of information they gathered was accompanied by the knowledge that there were many new factors entering into the particular problem they were studying, and they were not anxious to put forward the results of a limited investigation unless they were quite certain that the people to whom they were imparting the information would realise the limitations. The main aim of the research worker was the seeking after truth, and truth was a rather difficult thing to handle. He recalled the oath that was taken by witnesses in the Law Courts, to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Recently, he said, a lady at the Law Courts had refused to take that oath on the basis that she did not know the whole truth, and therefore, could not swear that she would tell it. To some extent research workers were in a similar sort of position ; they were most anxious to tell the truth, and the whole truth, but they had obtained only snippets of the truth and never the whole truth.

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