50 years ago

If Pierre Charron in his “Treatise on Wisdom” was himself wise, the true science and study of man is man. Things, of course, were easier in the sixteenth century, when fossil men were not in the laboratory or the study... Alas, in recent years the study of man has been attempted and magnified by all classes and conditions of men: geologists and palaeontologists; anatomists and anthropologists; statisticians and geneticists; blood-group specialists and geochronologists; and adventurers and plain unvarnished liars.

From Nature 22 September 1956.

100 years ago

The recent correspondence on the subject of radium, started in the Times by Lord Kelvin, has...apparently closed without any very definite conclusion being reached... Lord Kelvin's opening challenge was broad and sweeping. He took exception to the statement...that the production of helium from radium has established the fact of the gradual evolution of one element into others, and denied that this discovery affected the atomic doctrine any more than the original discovery of helium in cleveite. The obvious conclusion was that both cleveite and radium contained helium. He also stated that there was no experimental foundation for the hypothesis that the heat of the sun was due to radium, and ascribed it to gravitation... Prof. Armstrong, it is true, immediately enrolled under Lord Kelvin's banner... [His] letter merely served to provide Sir Oliver Lodge with justification for his favourite theme, which appears to be that whereas chemists have an instinct of their own for arriving at their results, reason is the monopoly of the physicist, whose results the chemist usually manages to absorb in the end. No better argument against the unfairness of this could be provided than by the history of radio-activity itself, which owes at least as much to the chemist as to the physicist.

From Nature 20 September 1906.