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Seventy Years Ago

Nature volume 145, page 19 (06 January 1940) | Download Citation



ON November 4, 1869, the first issue appeared of a new "weekly illustrated journal of science" entitled NATURE. It was under the able and forceful editorship of Sir Norman Lockyer, who secured the support of the leading men of science of the day for the new venture. Turning back in thought to those days, it will be seen that there is a certain parallelism between world affairs of that time and the present international situation. Prussia had defeated Austria and its German allies, and had emerged as a leading European power. Strategic railways had been built to the eastern and western frontiers, and tension between Germany and France increased until in July 1870 war was declared. The campaign was relatively short, but its consequences were momentous and have determined much of the history of the past half-century. It seemed worth while, therefore, to turn back to the early pages of NATURE, to note the reaction of scientific men and affairs to the course of events, and to observe the progress of science as recorded week by week in this journal. Let this be sufficient reason for the column of quotations and notes, taken from the first number of NATURE to appear in 1870, which is printed elsewhere in this issue (p. 41). It is proposed to publish week by week similar extracts from the issues of NATURE of "seventy years ago", in the hope that scientific workers will derive both profit and pleasure from these contemporary accounts of scientific thought and events.

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