100 and 50 years ago

    100 YEARS AGO

    The February number of Knowledge and Scientific News gives an account of what appears to be the first successful achievement of artificial flight, by Messrs. Orville and Wilbur Wright. That these brothers have been successful in gliding experiments performed under gravity is well known, but they now appear to have succeeded in raising themselves from the ground by a motor-driven machine which, after running along a mono-rail for 40 feet, rose into the air, and was driven in the face of a gale blowing at about 25 miles an hour... In the last trial the machine flew half a mile relative to the air, or 852 feet relative to the ground. It is sincerely to be hoped that this success will not, as in so many previous instances, be followed by a fatal accident.

    From Nature 18 February 1904.

    50 YEARS AGO

    The recent exchange of views in Nature regarding the biosynthesis of proteins prompts some comments from a geneticist. Campbell and Work take note of “the two main streams of thought on protein synthesis: one derived from the study of isolated enzyme systems and suggesting a stepwise coupling of many small peptide units; the other based on the study of genetic inheritance of protein specificity and preferring synthesis on templates, each template being specific for a single protein structure and probably identifiable with a gene”. While not rejecting the latter view (one gene–one protein), they point to some of the difficulties with which it is confronted, and further suggest the possibility that a synthesis of the two ideas will be found to fit the facts... The similarity of the conclusions drawn from the two aspects of this work, that with Drosophila and that with Neurospora, is notable. In connexion with the previous discussion in Nature, it might be suggested that the synthesis of non-specific precursor occurs in a stepwise fashion, while specificity is the function of template action. If this is the case, the gene–template relationship cannot be simple... and perhaps the template itself is synthesized by a similar two-stage process. The genetic control of protein synthesis would in any event be indirect and complex, perhaps approaching the level of complexity of the genetic control of morphogenesis.

    From Nature 20 February 1954.

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    100 and 50 years ago. Nature 427, 690 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/427690a

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