|Electronic Musing 1.
There are those who may
come across this web site and wonder what on earth a slide rule was, why it was ever
important, and why should anyone be showing any interest in the 21st century. What it was
will become obvious elsewhere, the two why questions could be considered as
|The image is fairly unusual in that it shows famous inventors James Watson and Francis Crick of DNA fame in 1953, Crick using his slide rule to point to the DNA Helix. How many images can you find of a famous inventor with his calculator? For a start they dont point as well!|
"Dad says that anyone who can't use a slide rule is a cultural illiterate and should not be allowed to vote. Mine is a beauty - a K&E 20-inch Log-log Duplex Decitrig"
From Have Space Suit - Will Travel, 1958, Robert A. Heinlein.
This quote from a character in a science fiction book written nearly half a century ago seems extreme, but it exemplifies two important traits that have long gone: a view that maths and its tools were important, and a real pride in the tool itself. To-days slide rule collector would still find a K&E 20-inch Log-log Duplex Decitrig a thing of beauty, but re-writing Heinleins words with todays emphasis shows just how meaningless and nonsensical the same sentiment has become when referred to a calculator. Perhaps it is just my age and background that makes it so: "Dad says that anyone who can't use a calculator is a cultural illiterate and should not be allowed to vote. Mine is a beauty it is a Casio 345 made in Taiwan and cost £2 from Argos". No, I just can not get the same significance out of the words!
Perhaps we should all start using slide rules again and see a real improvement in our mathematical capabilities!