From the archive

How Nature reported psychometric testing in 1919, and its own hundredth anniversary in 1969.

50 Years Ago

Later this year, in November, Nature will be a hundred years old. For much of the century, the journal has contributed in several unrelated ways to the development of science. From the beginning, of course, it has been a professional journal, but at the beginning it was most especially a means by which the still small and informal profession of science could be kept aware of events within and of pressures from outside. The early volumes of Nature contain an entirely readable mixture of opinion, news — particularly the doings of universities, learned societies and observatories — and occasionally of argument … For a great many years, the correspondence from readers was largely concerned with natural curiosities … Only by the turn of the century did the correspondence columns become a vehicle for the announcement of important discoveries in science.

From Nature 11 January 1969

100 Years Ago

The Saxon State Railways are now submitting their engine-drivers and other responsible train officials to certain tests in their psychometric laboratory at Dresden … [T]he tests comprise strength of will and endurance, and fatigue where there is physical strain. The Dubois ergograph is used for the purpose, the object being to trace a fatigue curve. The forearm rests on the table; over the middle finger is run a catgut loop, which passes over a pulley, the other end of the gut supporting a weight of from 4 to 8 kg., according to the suitability of the subject. When the middle finger is bent the weight is raised, and when relaxed again the weight is dropped, the process of this motion being traced on a recording drum … The system has been said to give satisfactory results as regards the selection of men for the proper posts.

From Nature 9 January 1919

Nature 565, 169 (2019)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-00028-w

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