50 & 100 years ago

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    50 Years Ago

    La Vie par Jean Rostand et Andrée Tétry — Anyone glancing through this comprehensive, abundantly illustrated and well-produced volume could be forgiven for thinking life was very odd. Scarcely a page is passed that does not contain a picture of the abnormal, from the slightly unusual to the chimerical ... It begins with morality and religion, passes to the consideration of the living cell and the latest knowledge on this important topic ... and ends with some speculations on the future of the human race. One can but envy the authors their erudition — or the amount they must have learned in compiling the volume — and congratulate them on the fruits of their labours.

    From Nature 6 October 1962

    100 Years Ago

    Satisfied with the maintenance of a specious standard of chemical purity, the public has acquiesced in the elevation of sky-scrapers and the sinking cavernous places of business. Many have thus become cave-dwellers, confined for most of their waking and sleeping hours in windless places, artificially lit, monotonously warmed. The sun is cut off by the shadow of tall buildings and by smoke — the sun, the energiser of the world, the giver of all things which bring joy to the heart of man, the fitting object of worship of our forefathers ... Modern civilisation has withdrawn many of us from the struggle with the rigours of nature ... I maintain that the bracing effect of cold is of supreme importance to health and happiness, that we become soft and flabby and less resistant to the attacks of infecting bacteria in the winter, not because of the cold, but because of our excessive precautions to preserve ourselves from cold.

    From Nature 3 October 1912

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    50 & 100 years ago. Nature 490, 47 (2012) doi:10.1038/490047b

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