100 and 50 years ago

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    100 YEARS AGO

    “Rev. C. L. Dodgson” — A formidable champion of Euclidean methods in the elementary teaching of geometry has just passed away after a short illness. ⃛ Without stint of labour he submitted to rigid logical analysis every text-book on the subject that came to his notice, undismayed by their surprising number, the result being the amusing and, at the same time, deep “Euclid and his Modern Rivals,” published in 1879, in which he demonstrated the logical superiority of Euclid's method over all the others examined. ⃛ He invented a new method of evaluating determinants, which is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society for 1866, and also a method (which was published in NATURE) of easily determining the day of the week corresponding to any date. In October last he described in NATURE a brief method of dividing a given number by 9 or 11; and a second paper on the same subject, which appears in our correspondence columns this week, probably represents his latest contribution to mathematics. ⃛ Mr. Dodgson's mind was essentially logical, in spite of the whimsical humour which has endeared “Lewis Carroll” to every boy and girl — nay, every adult — in the kingdom. A shy and retiring man, he was to his friends a most charming companion, overflowing with the quaintest of humour, and one whose love for children was typical of himself, and whom to know was to love.

    From Nature 20 January 1898.

    50 YEARS AGO

    The Royal Society Empire Scientific Conference held in June 1946 considered and approved a resolution advocating that where scientific papers or text-books are expressed primarily in British units, provision should be made for the inclusion of metric equivalents or conversion factors. ⃛ Sir Charles Darwin in opening the meeting emphasized that the matter to be discussed was one of intelligibility only, and had nothing to do with the introduction of the metric system in Britain. By making it possible for the foreigner to convert British units immediately into metric, publishers of scientific papers and books would assist Britain to attain the position of the centre of science in Europe.

    From Nature 24 January 1948.

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