From the archive

How Nature reported an explanation for biological clocks in 1969, and a nature reserve in Tasmania in 1919.

50 Years Ago

Plants and animals seem to be able to estimate time with uncanny accuracy, which is demonstrated by daily metabolic rhythms, and the migration of birds and the flowering of plants at specific times of the year. Living things must have a reference for such accurate timing. The biological clock is thought to be a form of oscillator, perhaps analogous to a pendulum. In constant conditions, the oscillator will have a period characteristic only of itself, but in nature, light or some such stimulus would force the oscillator to have a period of about twenty-four hours. Most biological clockwatchers reason that living organisms have their own internal time standard. Professor F. A. Brown of Northwestern University, Illinois, is almost alone in believing that the living organism can sense subtle stimuli from the environment, which act as pacemakers for the internal clock. In a recent article … he has marshalled the evidence from some twenty years of research into a most plausible argument.

From Nature 10 May 1969

100 Years Ago

The report of the National Park Board, Tasmania, has just reached us. We gather from it that in 1917 some 27,000 acres were enclosed to form a reservation for the native fauna and flora of Tasmania. Though late in the day, this reservation, if it can be adequately protected against poachers — about which there seems to be some doubt — should perform a very real service to the State and the world at large from the point of view of the man of science. The larger lakes in this enclosure, we are told, have been “restocked with fish. The Fisheries Commission assisted by defraying half the cost of distributing 12,000 rainbow-trout fry.” We trust that this experiment will not be at the expense of the native fish, which would defeat the avowed ends of the Board. The Government was asked for an annual grant of 500l. in order to develop the area. As a result 150l. was voted for the first year.

From Nature 8 May 1919

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01425-x
Nature Briefing

Sign up for the daily Nature Briefing email newsletter

Stay up to date with what matters in science and why, handpicked from Nature and other publications worldwide.

Sign Up