50 & 100 years ago

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    50 Years ago

    Sir John Cockcroft is reported to have expressed the opinion on April 26 that in 1966 some 25 per cent of the requirements of the United Kingdom for electricity would be met by nuclear generation, 50 per cent by 1975 and 100 per cent by the end of the century. Questions asked in the House of Commons on June 8 indicate a disposition to allow political and social considerations to over-ride, if not distort, the technical and economic aspects, and there have been other attempts to make the effect on the coal industry the deciding factor in determining the development of nuclear power. The implications of technological change have been ignored, as has the effect of development on the cost of electricity supplied by nuclear power-stations.

    From Nature 8 August 1959.

    100 Years ago

    A survey of the progress made during the last twenty-five years in almost any field of engineering work would show an immense advance. Even during the past ten years very considerable progress has been made in certain branches of applied science, and in none of them to a greater extent than in the internal-combustion engine. We need not in this comparison claim the gun as a form of internal-combustion engine, though we are naturally entitled to do so. We may leave lethal weapons aside, and think only of the remarkable development of the reciprocating internal-combustion engine, and of the many changes it has brought about in our times. It has revolutionised cross-country transit. It has given us the long-deferred ... victory called the “conquest of the air.” It is extraordinary to think of the numbers of men who have spent ingenious years in seeking a solution of the problem of flight. The solution has come in the unexpected form of a pair of long, sail-like arms, driven forward by a small high-speed internal-combustion engine.

    From Nature 5 August 1909.

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    50 & 100 years ago. Nature 460, 697 (2009) doi:10.1038/460697a

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