50 & 100 years ago

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    50 Years Ago

    Nuclear explosions in space produce negligible effects on the Earth, for example, a distinctly decreased intensity of fall-out; they produce more significant perturbations of the upper atmosphere, but these are very temporary (measured in hours). It is in near-space itself where very noticeable effects can be produced which can last for many months because of the presence of the Earth's magnetic field. It is evident that weapons tests in space can have important scientific by-products. The most interesting are the creation of a thin shell of 2-MeV fission electrons ... as well as the creation of a thick belt of low-energy protons from fusion neutrons. It will probably be desirable to monitor these artificial radiation belts with quite sophisticated energy-resolving detectors, to suppress the naturally trapped radiation, as well as the much larger changes (of factors of 10–100 and even higher) produced by such natural events as solar flares and magnetic storms.

    From Nature 27 October 1962

    100 Years Ago

    American naturalists are delighted by the announcement that Mrs. Russell Sage, widow of the late well-known Wall Street financier, has purchased Marsh Island, off the coast of Louisiana, in order to make it a perpetual bird sanctuary ... The island in question is about 75,000 acres in extent. It is a sylvan labyrinth affording shelter and food to hundreds of thousands of wild birds which resort to it in winter when the northern lakes and streams are locked fast under ice. For this reason it has been the great killing ground for the markets of New Orleans, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Chicago, no fewer than seventy market gunners being regularly employed there every winter.

    From Nature 24 October 1912

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    50 & 100 years ago. Nature 490, 495 (2012) doi:10.1038/490495a

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