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100 and 50 years ago


The adequate provision of secondary and higher education for English girls and women is to be regarded as one of the accomplishments of the latter half of the nineteenth century. In 1850, for instance, the popular idea here and elsewhere was that women were intellectually incapable of benefiting by higher instruction. To quote Dr. Leslie Waggener, of the University of Texas, “it was seriously questioned whether the 'female' mind could untangle the intricacies of pure mathematics, could appreciate the abstruse speculations of metaphysics, or could follow, step by step, the inductions of a scientific investigation.” Fifty years' experience has, however, demonstrated the complete fallacy of this preconception... So complete a change of opinion on a subject of such importance as the suitable education of the larger half of the human race deserves attention, and the steps in the movement which has resulted in the recognition of the claims of women at most universities throughout the world, supply a profitable study for all students of educational problems. A comparison, too, of the present provision of university courses for women with their complete non-existence in 1850 should serve to cheer those men of science and others who are endeavouring to improve our national education in other directions.

From Nature 24 December 1903.


In his speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations at New York on December 8, President Eisenhower said that the United States are prepared immediately to meet privately with such other nations as may be “principally involved” to seek “an acceptable solution” to the atomic armaments race... The President indicated that he is prepared to submit to the United States Congress, with every expectation of approval, plans which would encourage world-wide investigation into the most effective peace-time uses of fissionable material and which would begin to diminish the potential destructive power of the world's atomic stock-piles. Such plans should also demonstrate to peoples of all nations that the great Powers of the world, both of the East and of the West, are interested in human aspirations first and foremost, rather than in building up armaments of war.

From Nature 19 December 1953.

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100 and 50 years ago. Nature 426, 781 (2003).

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