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Topic: quotation
Replies: 21   Last Post: Aug 27, 1996 12:42 PM

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John Chandler

Posts: 76
Registered: 12/12/04
Re: quotation
Posted: Aug 14, 1996 8:46 PM
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In article <4ut2sf$>,
Dave Seaman <> wrote:
>In article <4ussdp$>, Paul J. Bell <> wrote:
>>a friend and i have a different opinion regarding
>>the author of the following quotation:
>>"Also the astronomers surely will not have to continue to exercise the
>>patience which is required for computation. It is this that deters them
>>from computing or correcting tables, from the construction of
>>Ephemerides, from working on hypotheses, anf form discussions of
>>observations with each other. For it is unworthy of excellent men to
>>lose hours like slaves in the labour of calculation which could safely
>>be relegated to anyone else if machines were used."
>>said friend thinks that the author was Leibniz and i think that it was Gauss.
>>opinions, please, with a reference, if possible.

>I think it was Charles Babbage. I don't recognize the entire quote,

>but the last sentence of your quotation is quite familiar. Neither
>Leibniz nor Gauss was proposing the use of a machine to replace human
>labo[u]r in the calculation of mathematical tables. Babbage was, by
>means of his Difference Engine. The mention of astronomers rings true,
>because Babbage's request for government funds to continue his project
>was denied by the Astronomer Royal.


Did not Herschel exclaim to Babbage and another student,
"Would to God these calculations could be done by steam!"?

Supposedly it was this remark that started Babbage on his
career designing computing machines. During that career he must
have made similar remarks many times.

Now don't ask if it was Herschel The Elder or
Herschel The Younger... (both were astronomers and one or both
were Astronomers Royal, were they not?).
(Pardon the vagueness; my encyclopedia is at home.)

John Chandler

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