100 YEARS AGO
In investigating the causes of directions of various spirals, I discovered a certain law and order in the arrangement of the direction of the spiral in horns which will interest many of your readers. (1) That in the antelopes the right-hand spiral is on the left of the head, and the left-hand spiral on the right of the head (crossed). (2) That in sheep the right-hand spiral is on the right of the head, and the left spiral on the left side of head (homonymous, or same name). The wild goats agree with the antelopes in regard to the spiral direction of their horns (crossed), and the oxen agree with the sheep in cases where the spiral can be noted (homonymous). Exceptions are not numerous and not difficult to remember, but this letter is not intended to do more than record the usual rules for spiral directions in horns. If these observations be of value in clearness of description of a difficult point, it will be a gain; and they may also prove useful in classification. By taking a corkscrew (or a right-handed spiral) in the hand, it is easy to verify on the horns themselves the direction of their spiral curves.
From Nature 10 January 1901.
50 YEARS AGO
The Société helvétique des Sciences naturelles held its 130th meeting at Davos during August 26–28. The Society has met there twice before—in 1890, when Davos was becoming one of the great health resorts of Europe, and in 1929, when it was also one of the great sport centres. . . In the afternoon, all sections joined up for the funicular railway ascent of the Weissfluhjoch. The very complex geological panorama was elucidated by Prof. J. Cadisch, of Berne. The Federal Institute for Research on Snow and Avalanches was inspected, with its low-temperature rooms, its thermically tested snowball of about a foot diameter and its stereoscopic microscope showing, in all its perfection, the scintillating branched symmetry of a crystal of snow. Afterwards, a film lecture on “Die Metamorphose des Schneekristalls”, by Dr. M. de Quervain, added the dynamic to the static picture, a striking feature being the spontaneous passage to a less symmetrical form with the effect of reducing the surface area. Avalanche research was also illustrated by a film, which by a tragic coincidence had caught a skier being engulfed.
From Nature 13 January 1951.