100 and 50 years ago

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    100 YEARS AGO

    At the request of the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, various experiments have been made by Drs Pernter and Trabert with the view of testing the use of Mr Stiger's apparatus for dispersing hail-clouds by gun-firing. The apparatus consists of a mortar with a long funnel fixed to the orifice ; upon firing a sufficient charge of powder, rings or whirls are formed in the air and can be followed either by their hissing sound or by the particles of smoke carried up with them. The force and durability of the whirls vary with the charge, and with the size of the funnel, but it does not appear from the experiments that a greater altitude than about 400 metres was reached, which is much less than had been previously stated. It does not seem probable, therefore, that unless the hail-clouds are very low that any practical result is likely to be attained. The most that can be said in favour of the process is that while in some cases the formation of hail may have been prevented by the disturbance of equilibrium, hail frequently falls, in spite of frequent firing.

    From Nature 8 November 1900.

    50 YEARS AGO

    The Nobel Prize for Medicine for 1950 has been awarded jointly to Dr. Philip Showalter Hench, of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, Prof. Edward Calvin Kendall, of the Mayo Foundation, Rochester, and Prof. Tadeus Reichstein, of the University of Basel. The award can be regarded as a recognition of the work which has been done leading to the dramatic opening of a new field of scientific medical research—that of rheumatoid arthritis and related diseases. Early in 1949, Hench, Kendall, Slocumb and Polley (Proc. Staff Meet. Mayo Clinic, 24, 181; 1949) reported on “the effects of the hormone of the adrenal cortex (. . .Compound E) and of pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone on rheumatoid arthritis”. This was followed soon after by a report of the effects of compound E on rheumatic fever (Hench, Slocumb, Barnes, Smith, Polley and Kendall, Proc. Staff Meet. Mayo Clinic, 24, 277; 1949). Since then, investigations have begun in centres of research in all parts of the world on the physiological action and the clinical application of cortisone. This work is now developing at an increasing rate, limited only by the availability of cortisone.

    From Nature 11 November 1950.

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