From the archive

What Nature was saying 50 and 100 years ago.

50 Years Ago

Biochemists are drilled from youth to treat enzymes with respect — never to let their temperature stray far from 0 °C, never to let the pH differ much from 7 … and, above all, never to let detergents get near them. Given that commercial enzyme preparations are also extremely expensive, biochemists were sceptical when … both Procter and Gamble and Unilever announced in Britain that enzyme detergents are going to wean British housewives away from the familiar products such as “Scruf” and “Fuzz”. The use of enzymes in washing up has a surprisingly long history. A Dr Otto Röhm took out a patent on the idea in 1913, and … since then attempts have been made to establish cleaning products based on enzymes … Only in the past few years … have enzymes become cheap enough and reliable enough to be a serious competitor for the traditional detergent.

From Nature 9 November 1968

100 Years Ago

An interesting case of complete absence of sensations from skin receptors, and of some other special senses, is described in the Lancet of October 19. The senses absent are touch … pain, heat and cold, muscular sense, taste, and smell. The state has been present for twenty years, but the subject possesses more than the average intelligence. In the absence of guidance from the eyes, he is unable to make any movement as requested, saying that he has no knowledge of whether he is making any movement or not. On the other hand, the more automatic movements of walking and swimming … can be executed correctly without the eyes … With visual control, all movements are perfectly normally executed. The subject is ignorant of any feelings of fatigue, and seems to be devoid of most forms of emotion. He has no love of country or of home, and makes neither friends nor enemies. Nevertheless, he is an efficient soldier, and always willing to help in hospital work.

From Nature 7 November 1918

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07273-5
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