From the archive

How Nature reported innovative moving walkways in 1968, and a plea to ban gases as weapons in 1918.

50 Years Ago

That old staple of science fiction writers, rapidly moving pavements for carrying people around cities, came a few steps nearer to reality last week. The Dunlop Rubber Company announced that … it has devised a viable conveyor system capable of speeds of ten miles an hour or more yet fully accessible to the old and infirm. Passenger conveyors tried about ten years ago … had a rubber belt sliding along a steel bed. Problems of friction soon led to the abandonment of this idea, and later designs had a belt running over rollers. This system was efficient though bumpy and uncomfortable, and Dunlop some years ago devised a belt strengthened by lateral and longitudinal steel cords. The belt needs support only at its edges: its centre span apparently gives a smooth ride … A double moving belt three feet wide could carry 30,000 passengers an hour over a route of perhaps two miles … Cost is estimated at £2 million a mile — about a third of that of the Victoria line.

From Nature 7 December 1968

100 Years Ago

In a letter to the Times of November 28 … appears a plea… to prevent any nation from ever again employing gas as a weapon. The letter is signed by eight of the most highly placed members of the medical profession, who know from experience what immense suffering has been caused from the employment of asphyxiating gas in the present war. Those who have knowledge of the operations of our own gas offensive service will tell us that there must be very many of our present enemies who will heartily agree with the views expressed in this letter … If in the coming comity of nations mutual confidence can extend so far as to agree to the abolition of a form of warfare … surely it can go one small step further and so abolish war altogether.

From Nature 5 December 1918

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07596-3
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