50 Years Ago
Lord Halsbury introduced the subject [of automation] by saying that the public is substantially misinformed about it... “The automatic factory and the automatic office,” he said, “have arrived, but they are no more than the development of improvements in production that have been going on for many years. The only really new technique which has been injected into industry is the digital computer.” He said that automation is most likely to affect the section of industry which produces what are called consumer durables, that is, motorcars, radio, television, washing machines, etc. It is very unlikely to be widely used in heavy engineering, shipbuilding, agriculture, mining, textiles and highly mechanized industries... He believes that although automation will cause men and women to change their jobs and perhaps move to new areas, widespread unemployment is not a danger because in any event changes are unlikely to come about quickly.
From Nature 10 November 1956.
100 Years Ago
Two events during the past few days have shown that men of science recognise the ability of women to originate and carry out scientific research and inspire others with their spirit. One is that on Thursday last the Royal Society awarded the Hughes medal to Mrs W. E. Ayrton, for her experimental investigations on the electric arc and also upon sand ripples; and the other event is the first lecture delivered at the Sorbonne on Monday by Mme. Curie... The Royal Society, by placing Mrs Ayrton's name alone, and not bracketed with that of a man, in the list of medallists for this year has manifested its recognition of individual work by a woman. The Davy medal was awarded by the society in 1903 to Prof. Curie and Mme. Curie jointly, for their researches on radium, though the published work on the subject shows that the discovery of radium was due to Mme. Curie alone.
From Nature 8 November 1906.