From the archive

50 years ago

This is a historical truth and an aspect of human behavior that memorable occasions have recalled later in life … often gain in size and importance over time. A study of contemporary documents by JWT Moody (J. Soc. Bibliog. Nat Hist., 5, 474; 1971) shows that the presentation of Darwin-Wallace’s articles on natural selection to the scientific world on July 1, 1858, was no exception … [T]The occasion has been said to represent the start of a new era in scientific thought… but at the time of its presentation, it was somewhat of a non-event. [T]he meeting at the Linnean Society … had been specially called by the president for the election of a new board member … [T]The secretary read the text of Darwin’s and Wallace’s papers … Darwin for domestic reasons did not attend the meeting …[A]As of this date, the agenda was not sent to members, so the less than thirty members who attended … could hardly expect a memorable meeting … Moody … suggests that the public weren’t so stunned by the new ideas as they were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information loaded on them. No formal discussion took place at the meeting, the audience was to instantly shift their attention from Darwin-Wallace articles to “Notes on the Organization of Phoronis hippocrepis”.

Of Nature August 6, 1971

100 years ago

A description of the ball lightning observed in the sky over St. John’s Wood during an early morning thunderstorm on June 26 has recently been received by the Meteorological Office. The phenomenon, a large incandescent mass floating in the air below the clouds and apparently stationary for a few minutes, is of great rarity, and the Director of the Meteorological Office, London, SW7, would be greatly obliged if people who observed him on this occasion would communicate with him.

Of Nature August 4, 1921

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