Back to back.jpg
Boos - Back - Nameplate IOR 2020.pdf

Back to back

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • How do we know the stuff we know?
    In physics and engineering, a lot of our
    knowledge comes from calculations.
    And when these calculations become
    difficult, we need tools to perform
    Fifty years ago, mechanical calculators
    (pictured left) were the tool of choice,
    and they allowed us to quickly add,
    subtract, multiply, and divide numbers.
    They are reliable, make a heck of a
    noise, weigh 20 pounds, and they just
    work. They solved many problems
    before the advent of the computer,
    contributing a huge amount to what
    we know today. But as science
    progressed, new and faster tools were
    Today, almost every day, I use my
    computer (pictured right) to solve the
    equations I encounter in my research
    in physics. Don’t get me wrong: many
    of those calculations could, in
    principle, still be done on the
    mechanical calculator, but a computer
    is just faster, quieter, and does not
    weigh as much.
    In the background you can see a part
    of the equation that I solved using my
    computer. Below it, the mechanical
    calculator and the laptop stand “back
    to back,” as if they are debating who is
    better at solving it.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International