October - 40 years ago; 20 years ago

40 years ago in Chemistry in Britain

Sir Robert Robinson aroused in me an interest in natural colouring matters that I have never lost. My research on the colours in aphids, for example aphins and aphinins, started in Cambridge in 1947, on the source of the dark colour of the common ’blackfly’ (Aphis fabae); this was largely because in that year there was a heavy local infestation. The aphid story is as yet incomplete and we do not know what function these pigments have. 

Digested version of Lord Todd’s Robert Robinson lecture (October 1966, p428)

Ed: To this day, little is known about the ecological significance of the various colours in aphids. Some species show intraspecific colour variation, and these may give different rates of mortality from predation and parasitism. (J E Loseyet al Nature, 1997,  388, 269).

20 years ago in Chemistry in Britain

Many RSC members will view with alarm the possible closure of the RSC Library. 

What the library provides is a superbly quiet and well-organised facility with nearly all the necessary journals and books within a few seconds’ reach....In these times when university budgets are under heavy pressure, surely it is important for the Society to provide access to the less-common journals which are found in fewer and fewer other libraries. 

Can a society without a library call itself learned? 

Edited version of a letter to the editor from J Buckingham  (October 1986, p906)

Ed: The RSC Library is still flourishing and now also provides a ’virtual’ library and information centre.