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Charles Petzold - Computer of the Tides - Code on the Beach 2014

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Published on Sep 7, 2014

Check out Charles Petzold's talk "Computer of the Tides" from Code on the Beach 2014 at One Ocean Resort & Spa, Atlantic Beach, Florida. Friday, August 8, 2014. www.codeonthebeach.com

Abstract:
"In the late 1860s and early 1870s, British scientist William Thomson—later known as Lord Kelvin—developed a technique based on Fourier analysis to mathematically predict the pattern of tides for particular seaports. Never just a theoretical physicist, Thomson then designed a machine to carry out these calculations. One of these tide-predicting machines is on view in the Science Museum in London. Today we categorize this machine as a special-purpose analog computer. While it’s certainly interesting from a technical perspective, it also has a surprising role in the history of 19th century science: William Thomson began his research into the tides in the midst of the Darwin Wars following the 1859 publication of The Origin of Species, and part of the impetus behind this astonishing machine was nothing less than to prove Darwin wrong. From the clash of thermodynamics, geology, and evolution, the era of analog computing was born."

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