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Thursday, February 23, 2012

This time 2012 or 1861: Can you tell the difference?

Another gem... this time from Prof Dougal Drysdale who continues to receive enquiries about spontaneous human combustion:
“It is sad to think that, in an earnest scientific work, in the year of grace 1861, we must still treat the fable of ‘spontaneous (human) combustion’, a thing that no one has ever seen or examined, the very proofs of whose existence rests upon the testimony of perfectly untrustworthy non-professionals.”
From: Caspar, J L: “A handbook of the practice of forensic medicine based on personal experience” (The New Sydenham Society, London, 1861)

Monday, February 13, 2012

2012 or 1865: Can you tell the difference?

Massive thanks to John Gales for digging this up:

“It is now eleven years since this subject was brought before notice of the Institute in a distinct form. Since that time, fires of enormous extent have occurred…, and the loss of life and property has been immense; for with the extraordinary increase of trade and wealth, there have, day to day, arisen larger dwellings, larger workshops, of all kinds wherein goods may be made, stored or sold. New kinds of buildings too have been introduced, and acts of parliament controlling structures have been strained to the utmost to allow of works which never were contemplated when the acts were framed…. I shall have, I am afraid, in this paper but little novelty to tell. I can speak of no grand discovery - no dazzling invention - but the destructive fires which have occurred since the time at which the last discussion here took place, have tested to the utmost the strength of materials and the merits of construction; and I thought therefore, that it might be well reviewed what has passed in the time.”

- TH Lewis (Institute of British Architects, 1865)