100 and 50 years ago

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    100 YEARS AGO

    A careful experimental inquiry regarding the nutritive value of alcohol has recently been carried out in the chemical laboratory of Wesleyan University... The main question studied is the value of alcohol as a fuel in the human body and its comparison in this respect with sugar, starch, fats and other nutrients of ordinary food materials. Collaterally, the question of the effect of alcohol upon the proportions of nutrients digested from the food with which it was taken has also been examined. Metabolic experiments on an elaborate scale have been instituted with the view of investigating the problem, and no expense has been spared to obtain complete and accurate results... The results of the inquiry indicate that more than 98 per cent. of the ingested alcohol was oxidised in the body and that the potential energy of the alcohol was transformed into kinetic energy as completely as that of the ordinary nutrients... The conclusion is drawn that so far as the utilisation of the total energy of the diet is concerned, there is a slight advantage in favour of the non-alcoholic diet, especially when the body is subjected to hard muscular exertion, but the difference is so small as to lie almost within the limits of experimental error.

    From Nature 4 September 1902.

    50 YEARS AGO

    An investigation into the interests of about 391 people (241 males, 150 females) who are taking science subjects in adult education classes showed that the females were more extreme in their preferences and dislikes than the males... Males were most interested in studying future advances and new discoveries and theories in science and, next to these, medicine, health and the industrial applications of science. Medicine and health were the most popular subjects for females, and almost as popular were pure biology and psychology. Neither males nor females took much interest in aeronautics or in the public direction and use of science; even less interest was shown in the work of scientific institutions and the results of science surveys and commissions. This may indicate that the 'ordinary' man is not fully conscious of the impacts of science on communal life or, perhaps, is little interested in the development of society as distinct from the individual.

    From Nature 6 September 1952.

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    100 and 50 years ago. Nature 419, 25 (2002) doi:10.1038/419025a

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