A mechanical computer that aims guns, an alarm clock, and leaping from a train

This is an amazing  training video for the Navy from the 1950’s on their mechanical computer used to control guns on the ship. I learned a lot about how certain mechanisms work and it also helped me to better understand what computing essentially is.

I was also using Khan Academy for the first time in a little while, and found these awesome videos about how some common household electronics work. Like this one:

I’m also reading my grandfather’s memoir! So far I’ve learned about what the Swiss German border was like during WWII and about my family. I learned that his hime town of Grenzach had its own distinct dialect until the large chemical companies brought in a ton of workers from elsewhere. I also learned that the train used to go through Switzerland from one part of Germany to another. It would not stop there when the war was going and the borders were locked down. Guards were on the lookout for jumpers. As a boy, my grandfather saw a young man, risking death, jump from the fast moving train in Switzerland  and escape. It is a great read so far and very interesting. Hi Grandpa! Thanks for writing a memoir!

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2 Responses to A mechanical computer that aims guns, an alarm clock, and leaping from a train

  1. Pitsch says:

    Your reading my thing makes me very happy. Let me know what you think once you have finished it. I was trying to tell a story but also to share some of my views of the world.
    I wanted to send you an e-mail earlier this week, but I believe your mail box is full or something. So, I am adding most of what I said in the e-mail here.

    “For some time, I have followed Edge.org. If you have not seen it, I recommend
    that you take a look. John Brockman, the editor, has attracted the attention of
    a lot of very smart people. At Edge they talk about “the third culture”. Perhaps
    you are pursuing something similar. In this context the folks in the “first
    culture” are in the literary class, what they used to call “the men (!) of letters” or
    “public intellectuals”. They are well read, pontificate a lot, but know nothing
    about science and in fact may be proud of it. In the second culture are
    scientists who have absolutely no interest in matters of the arts. The third
    (the new) culture includes people who believe that the arts and sciences have
    much in common, for example in the creative process. The Edge promotes the
    sciences (mostly social sciences) in a way that is: a) understandable by the
    non-scientist and b) accessible to all. As for myself, I know very little about
    science or the arts, but I am drawn to this sort of thing.

    One of the smart people often quoted by “ Edge” is Steven Pinker whose book “The
    Better Angels of our Nature” I have been reading for some time. Pinker is a
    linguist and evolutionary psychologist at Harvard. It’s a monumental book, about
    1000 pages. He argues persuasively that contrary to most people’s belief that
    things get worse all the time, i.e. that violence, murders, wars and human
    rights violations etc. increase; we are actually becoming more civilized. The
    roots of this change go back to the Enlightenment and an appreciation of the
    individual, but the spread of enlightened ideas more recently also hat to do
    with modern communication, i.e. the internet. It’s an optimistic book and worth
    reading if you don’t mind struggling through lots of statistics, but it is also written in
    a witty and ironic style you might like.”
    Grandpa

    • brainchomp says:

      Thanks for the suggestions! Edge.org looks very interesting. I am familiar with Pinker. I read The Selfish Gene and some of The Blank Slate, which I think you got me! They were both illuminating. For some reason I lost steam with the Blank Slate, but it was very good. My email should work now btw. 🙂

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