There is an old joke about an engineer and a mathematician who both die in the same accident. The guy from the gates of heaven tells them they cannot enter because they have led an unholy life (of science) so to hell they’ll go, but before that, they’ll each go into a tunnel, in which, at distance d there is a very beautiful and, well, naked lady waiting to satisfy them. In the first minute, they’ll go half the distance, then in the next minute the half of the remaining distance, then the half of the remaining distance and so on… The mathematician shouts that 1 - 1/2 - 1/4 - 1/8 - 1/16 - 1/32 means I’ll never ever reach the woman, this is boolshit, please take me directly to hell. The engineer takes out his pocket calculator, pushes some buttons and then says: well, I’ll be at ~1 centimeter from that lady in about six hours, and stay at that distance, give or take, for a very, very, very long time… that’s fine with me.
My dad, one of the original computer jockeys in UT, gave me a Pickett Slide Rule in 1970. It was a really good one, and probably cost him several hundred dollars. I still have it and can still use it. I didn't get a calculator until I started college in 1974...….
Cool. There's very few people that even know how to use a slide rule (or an abacus). I learned because all my neighbors were using them to put men on the moon. Most could use them better than explaining HOW to use them. Those guys could knock out numbers as quick as the new Texas Instruments new calculators back then. They ought to teach elective courses on slide rules, while we still have people alive that used them for a living. I was in mission control when Apollo 17 astronaut, and neighbor, Gene Cernan walked on the moon. Years later, while visiting my Mom in Clear Lake, I took my 7 year old daughter to NASA. I was talking to an old timer and he noticed my BlackBerry. He told me that my phone had more computing power than all the banks of computers used in mission control during the Apollo program. Kind of mind blowing.
I heard a similar comment in my quantum mechanics class from a visiting astrophysicist from Rensselaer. He used to work for NASA, and told us that they needed a large room, filled with computer banks, to have just a fraction of the computing power in our handheld calculators.
My dad had a metal Pickett that he used as a consulting engineer into the early 80s.
He had a number of different slide rules, including a circular one, but the Pickett (I remember it because of its distinctive leather case with a belt loop) was the cream of the crop. The circular slide rule was more of a novelty since it wasn't practical and required extra steps or notations for more complicated calculations.
I had my pick of the rest (most of them plastic) when I did structural calculations for him.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/28/2018 11:14AM by GregS.
GregS Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > The circular slide rule was more of a novelty > since it wasn't practical and required extra steps > or notations for more complicated calculations.
Yeah, but you could do quaternion math with the circular ones! I'm not even kidding!
I actually had to look up what hell quaternion math was. My hat's off to the circular slide rule, then. :)
Quaternion math really wasn't required for calculating the tension and compression of trusses.
An aside: My dad had a drafter's "trick" for calculating stress on trusses with only a protractor and a ruler, but I still had to "show the work" with the slide rule.
What was the point in showing me a shortcut if I still had to take the long way around to present the results to the client? That just seemed cruel to an already surly teenager who could have used a Surly.
In USAF Navigator School at Mather AFB in the late 1960s, we used a specialized circular slide rule for air navigation problems. One side was the E6B wind/vector computer, and the other side was the slide rule. It had a specialized scale for converting airspeed from "indicated" to "calibrated" to "equivalent" to "true" ("ICE-T"). Don't know what they're doing now.
I've still got my old K&E log log duplex decitrig. Once I took it to school to show the students. I said, "I got this slide rule as a high-school graduation present in 1963, and I haven't had to replace the batteries yet. A kid was looking at it and asked, "Where do the batteries go?" I wouldn't make stuff like this up.
Today, it's framed over the desk with a placard that reads, "In case of power failure, break glass."
Backseater Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > In USAF Navigator School at Mather AFB in the late > 1960s, we used a specialized circular slide rule > for air navigation problems. One side was the E6B > wind/vector computer, and the other side was the > slide rule. It had a specialized scale for > converting airspeed from "indicated" to > "calibrated" to "equivalent" to "true" ("ICE-T"). > Don't know what they're doing now.
GPS and computers that do all the work for them. If that stuff goes out, I wonder how many could navigate their way to the nearest landing strip? :)
You'd be surprised. My kid, at 15, won a scholarship to the National Flight Academy School at NAS Pensacola. It was a 10 day program. They lived in a land based replica of a USN aircraft carrier. They all learned basic navigation (as well as computer based nav.) by vectoring using basic math, circular slide rules and protractors. I couldn't do that today. They planned rescue missions in oceans 9,000 miles away. Learned a lot. Her highlights though, was front row seats at the Blue Angels practice, put on just for their class, and hitting the Floribama.
Yeah. I was jealous. I've been fortunate in life to do some pretty cool things. Been around the Australian Grand Prix track with Mario. Around Long Beach with Johnny Rutherford and Dez Wilson. Fontana with Paul Newman, Chip Hanauer and James Garner. But, I would've loved to attend that flight school. The simulator technology is so realistic. The kids had to fly, refuel, deal with weather and anything else that they threw at them. But, like you said, they could function when the power went off. My local grocery store can't. Nobody can do basic math, add up products, plus tax or make change.
Back in the 1960s, the plan was that all the electronic navigation aids (Loran, Tacan, VOR, etc.) would be turned off when the war started, to keep the enemy from using them. The emphasis was still heavily on celestial, which is available most of the time (when you're at high altitude above the clouds) and cannot be jammed or interfered with.
As I said in another post, desk calculators were available as early as the 1950s--but I did not see a pocket personal calculator until 1972, and even then they were expensive novelties. The big surge of personal calculators came in the mid-seventies. I was out by then, but I'm sure there was some friction getting calculators into the AF program. I did read somewhere that the Apollo missions all carried the latest HP calculators.
In the good old days, it was all done with the E-6B computer/slide rule, a watch, a sextant, three volumes of Navy Hydrographic Office sight reduction tables (HO-249), the Air Almanac (still available online), and specialized worksheets for applying the multitudinous corrections (atmospheric refraction, dome refraction, Coriolis forces, Precession and Nutation of the Equinoxes, etc.) It was complicated, but straightforward and logical. The course was geared to produce B-52 navigators; but I went straight from there into F-4s, and never touched a sextant or a sight reduction table again.
I learned on a circular, it was easier to stick in my purse back when girls still had to wear dresses to school. When I tried to switch to a straight I kept screwing up and went back to my circular. Still have it somewhere.
I read a lot of pulp science fiction magazines in the 1950s and 60s. AFAIK, none of the science fiction authors of that era--not even the great Robert Heinlein or Poul Anderson--foresaw the pocket calculator. They all had astronauts using slide rules to navigate their spaceships and starships. This in a time when every lumberyard office had at least one Friden electro-mechanical desk calculator.
FWIW, it just this minute occurred to me that they didn't foresee the cell phone or the GPS either.
My brother, a Mechanical Engineer, tells a very different story. This is how it goes: a mistake is made and an engineer (deserving heaven) is accidentally sent to hell. There, he immediately begins projects such as the installation of air conditioning in hell. Well, St. Peter learns of the mistake and contacts the Devil (aka Satan)to discuss the mistake. Satan refuses to release the engineer so St. Peter says he'll sue. Satan then says: "and where will you find a lawyer? How can you sue?" My brother did work on, among other things, the Apollo project. I had a engineering minor in ME minor at MIT. My younger brother majored in Physics.
(I am a lawyer)
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2018 08:09PM by rhgc.
No. Although, like Perry Mason, I have never lost a criminal jury trial, I also will only eventually make money from a book I am writing about a serial killer who framed one of my clients.
I hope to be a rare lawyer who ... just saw lightning and heard a loud burst of thunder .... will somehow get to go above. I do NOT wish for the "Celestial Kingdom" which would make be too tired, but just for a simple afterlife.
Reminds me of this joke... A lawyer was sitting in her office late one night, when Satan appeared. The Devil told the lawyer: "I have a proposition for you. You can win every case you try for the rest of your life. Your clients will adore you, your colleagues will stand in awe of you, and you will make embarrassing sums of money. All I want in exchange is your soul, your husband's soul, your children's souls, the souls of your parents, grandparents, and parents-in-law, and the souls of all your friends and law partners." The lawyer thought for a moment, then asked: "So, what's the catch?"
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/07/2018 01:56AM by chipace.
She should have known, having seen the Simpson's show when Homer sold his soul to the Devil. Bart was counsel for the defense and won. Bart found that in a picture Homer had given to Marge, he had given himself body and soul to Marge and, hence, did not have it to give. Similarly the woman lawyer only had to give her soul to her husband first. As for the other souls, she didn't possess them. See, I'm a bright lawyer.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2018 04:34PM by rhgc.
Did you know Gene? He was a genius. A fighter pilot that got an aeronautical engineering degree. Great guy. Are you from the Clear Lake area? Cape Canaveral? I also had a few cocktail with Alan Bean and knew Fred Haise. Susan Lovell was my classmate. Back then, to us kids, space flight was an exciting challenge. After I got older, I realized what a huge risk those guy were actually taking.