50 Years Ago
The possible changes, especially perhaps in the emotional sphere, brought on by the stimulating action of salt are, of course, entirely a matter of speculation. The greater responsiveness of people, if they were so stimulated, could have helped throughout the ages in the accumulation of knowledge... There is no question that there is a sound basis for the prescribing of low-salt diets in many diseases, particularly those involving the circulatory system. When it comes to normal people, however, recommendations are infinitely more difficult. It is certainly true that the chemistry of the body does not require the addition of salt to our food. The physician, however, is not primarily interested in the mere metabolic processes but in the general welfare of his patients, and he should consider that the quickened pace of a more complicated society demands persons with a heightened responsiveness. Salt may be one of the ingredients producing this effect.
From Nature 24 November 1956.
100 Years Ago
The author [of The Human Epic] begins with the evolution of the earth and the origin of life, and strives to show the changes undergone by the inorganic world and the gradual appearance of lowly marine beings in the Cambrian and Silurian seas. Of poetic fancies the author nothing lacks, but of natural history lore his stock is meagre:—
“Much fear I him who armed with claws and quills Steals stealthily along the weedy mire. I dread the shape who bears the bristling gills Which seem with rage and venom to respire. But chiefly do I fear the lobster dire. Four claws he wears, his quarry to assail, Two spears he brandishes to wreak his ire, Invulnerable gleams his quilted mail. O'er such stupendous foe nought living can prevail”
We are quite at a loss to fit the author's description with any Silurian, or, indeed, any other fossil arthropod!
From Nature 22 November 1906.