50 & 100 years ago

50 years ago

The British General Post Office is busy organizing a “telephone fortnight” in an attempt to silence the public criticism of its services. So far, the promotion has given everybody a chance to tell their favourite telephone stories, most of them unflattering to the GPO. The GPO’s timing was inept; it is only two weeks since it announced increases in postal and telephone charges, and it might have been better to let the hubbub settle down before organizing the campaign … In the next three years, the GPO is intending to spend £1,100 million on investment in telecommunications … In the longer term, the GPO should be wondering how to increase the number of subscribers … Britain still has very few telephones — 183 telephones per 1,000 of population.

From Nature 4 May 1968

100 years ago

Students of animal behaviour will find some interesting facts on the “drumming” of the ruffed grouse … in Forest and Stream for April, illustrated by a series of remarkable photographs, probably the first of the kind which have ever been taken. The author, Mr. F. K. Vreeland, had the good fortune to watch at close range one of these birds while “displaying”, and he is convinced that the strange drumming sound then made is produced by the use of the wings alone. This may indeed be the case, but we suspect that later investigations will show that these sounds are at least partly vocal … The author is apparently so much of an “outdoor naturalist” that he has never read any of the voluminous literature on this theme of courtship displays. But in some respects this adds rather than detracts from the value of his observations, since his records are made without bias.

From Nature 2 May 1918

Nature 557, 39 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-04993-6
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