50 Years ago

In his presidential address to the British Association at York on September 2, Sir James Gray pleaded strongly for a wider outlook in the teaching of science and stressed the need for a considered judgment as to the proportion of our total educational effort which should be devoted to the training of scientists and technicians — upon whom we depend for maintaining or extending our standard of living — and the proportion which should be expended on raising the intellectual standards whereby the bulk of the population forms its judgments on matters which are susceptible to personal prejudice or political propaganda. Sir James recognized the implications of Dr. Trenaman's inquiry into the impact of the mass media and maintained that the key to the problem lies in the schools. The responsibility resting on secondary school teachers is not easily exaggerated, and Sir James pointed out that really inspired teachers, working with adequate but simple equipment, would achieve far more for general education than specialists in highly equipped laboratories.

From Nature 17 October 1959.

100 Years ago

The British School of Archaeology at Athens has made further important discoveries on the site of the city of Sparta. The great temple of Artemis Orthia has been now completely cleared. The site known as the Menelaion, at Therapne, about two miles south-east of Sparta, has been partially examined. The sanctuary of Menelaus and Helen, mentioned by Herodotus, Livy, Pausanias, and Polybius, was a favourite resort of the Spartan ladies, where the goddess was believed to confer the gift of beauty on her worshippers. The discovery of Mycenaean remains on this site suggests that this was the famous palace of Menelaus.

From Nature 14 October 1909.