50 Years ago

A Survey of Soils in the Kongwa and Nachingwea Districts of Tanganyika. By B. Anderson — Everyone knows the dismal sequel to the ambitious scheme for the mechanized production of ground-nuts in East Africa, which was characterized by the failure to employ pedological methods on pedological problems. After the horse had departed, some effort was made to shut the stable door and a very competent soil surveyor was set to work to make a proper study of the soils of the Kongwa and Nachingwea districts. The publication under review presents his results and shows what can be achieved by one trained pedologist working 'on the cheap' with limited facilities, but with specialized technical assistance from various institutions. The moral for would-be planners of land-use is obvious.

From Nature 19 December 1959.

100 Years ago

It may be of interest to record a fact which has come under my notice while engaged in the development of a uranious mine in Turkestan. The ore is oxidised and calcareous, and contains uranium, vanadium, and copper, radium being present in accordance with Prof. Rutherford's formula, which gives the quantity of it in relation to the uranium. The uranium is on the average 3.8 per cent., but in some places reaches the ratio of 30 per cent. and more ... As I know from the literature of the subject that vanadium and uranium are toxic substances, I instruct the workmen to wash their hands well before going to their dinner and after their work. “We do this,” they say, “but at the same time we know that in actual practice a cut on a hand, which lasts for a long time in a coal mine, here, when powdered by the ore, gets well very quickly.”

From Nature 16 December 1909.