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The contributions made by scientists (chemists, metallurgists, physicists etc.) to the heavy electrical in dustry over the past 50 years are reviewed in four categories: development of diversified products, introduction of new basic principles into the industry, efforts to overcome the limitations of materials in use in electric plant and the incorporation of materials appearing on the market into new designs of electric plant. The first category no longer finds much opportunity in a compartmentalised industry; the second has been vigorously pursued, but the heavy outlay needed in the absence of clear signs of economic gain has produced a lull; the third has had some moderate successes; but the fourth has been the principal contribution, and an essential part of the improvements in equipment over the past 20 years. The diffuse nature of this last contribution, and the difficulty of identifying the benefit it gives to any particular organisation, have obscured its value, but there seems to be every prospect that the industry will need both the personal and professional contributions of scientists more in the future than it has in the past.