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100 and 50 years ago


Mankind in the Making, Anticipations and The Food of the Gods. By H. G. Wells. Three books of his more especially claim to forecast the future of our race... [M]en of energy — men of science, engineers, doctors, and so forth — will shape policy and administration. The result will be marvellous efficiency, such as is rarely if ever seen now. There will be no king. Monarchy will have given place to the New Republic. Royalty is connected with all things out of date, with aristocratic privileges, ridiculous costumes and decoration. Therefore it must go... The class that supplies unskilled labour, the old servile class, will tend to disappear. The invention of machines capable of performing more cheaply all the work that has hitherto fallen to the unskilled will make such men unnecessary. Peasant proprietors and all small land-holders must pass away. They represent stagnation, and there is room only for go-ahead adaptable people. Those who fail to adapt will fall into the abyss, the great sink in which wallow all those who are unfitted for the new conditions. The people of the abyss are to be encouraged to extinguish themselves, to practise what would commonly be called vice without offspring resulting.

From Nature 29 December 1904.


“Commonwealth Oceanographic Conference.” It arose from arguments that the change of emphasis in oceanography, from exploration and survey to research directed towards the precise understanding of the basic physical and biological processes, makes it necessary to devote more effort to theoretical and experimental work... The only practical thing is for oceanographers to learn how the water movements are governed by atmospheric pressure, wind and climate so that they can use the meteorological data, supplemented every now and then by their own upper- and lower-water observations... It would no doubt be wrong to suggest that oceanographers took up the subject because they found the mathematical and physical sciences too difficult and unattractive; but they have been rather slow in applying the precise techniques of these sciences to marine research... To increase our knowledge the subject must be made attractive to men who do not mind facing up to the difficulties of fluid mechanics.

From Nature 25 December 1954.

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100 and 50 years ago. Nature 432, 960 (2004).

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