From The Archive

50 Years Ago

The National Bureau of Standards has predictably recommended that the United States should switch over to a metric system of measurement in the course of the next decade. In the report of the US Metric Study, which has occupied the bureau since the passing of the Metric Study Act by Congress in August 1968, the principal theme is that the metric system is for practical purposes unavoidable … The report … has the inelegant title A Metric America: A Decision whose Time has Come (US Government Printing Office, $2.50) … It remains to be seen what Congress will make of the report … and of the argument that metrication is historically necessary. Congress failed to respond to Jefferson’s commendation of the metric system as long ago as 1790, even before the definition of the metre. Since then, Congress has built up a long record of flirtation with bits and pieces of the metric system, especially at the turn of the century.

From Nature 13 August 1971

100 Years Ago

The North American Species of Drosophila by A. H. Sturtevant — One of the chief features of interest in such a monograph lies in a comparison of the systematic differences distinguishing species with those distinguishing mutants … Dr. Sturtevant points out that both species and mutants may differ from each other in such features as eye-colour, wing-shape, abdominal pattern, and size and shape of eyes; but in studying specific differences it is “often necessary to examine minute characters, such as wing-vein indices or the relative sizes of certain bristles, that are seldom examined in material bred for genetic purposes.” Many of the mutant characters are, however, similar to those observed between species. The general impression is received that specific differences and mutations may both be found in practically any

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