50 & 100 years ago

50 Years Ago

Thirty years ago, those of us who argued that hunger and malnutrition existed and would get worse unless research on agriculture and contraception got very much more support, were variously labelled atheists, communists, dreamers or idealists according to the prejudices of the critic. But facts are stubborn, and awareness of the need for more food is now widespread. Consequently, we are deluged with books and symposia on what could and should be done to balance food and population … Optimists tend to overlook the fact that, unless a population control policy depends on a dictatorial act along Herodian lines, it will not be effective until people have learnt the rudiments of biology and hygiene.

From Nature 6 July 1968

100 Years Ago

Anthrax is an acute, infective disease of man and animals and is caused by the anthrax bacillus … In order to prevent the disease in dangerous trades working with possibly infected animal material it would, at first sight, appear to be a simple thing to disinfect the infected material. In practice, however, this is found to be exceedingly difficult on account of the truly enormous powers of resistance of the spore … complete success can now be attained without risk to the workers and without damage to the material disinfected. The main feature of the process is a preliminary treatment in which material is submitted to the action of a warm solution of soap and water containing alkali … This causes softening and disintegration of any infected blood-clots, and the spores are laid bare for the subsequent destroying process … ten million pounds of infected wool can be effectively disinfected for something less than 0 824 penny per pound weight.

From Nature 4 July 1918

Nature 559, 39 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05594-z
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the daily Nature Briefing email newsletter

Stay up to date with what matters in science and why, handpicked from Nature and other publications worldwide.

Sign Up