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Bruce Parker, former Chief Scientist and eleven-year veteran of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, wrote this fascinating article in the September issue of Physics Today. It covers the technical history of the science of tide prediction leading up to the beautiful mechanical computers developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to quickly extrapolate recorded tide patterns into useful predictions, and goes on to explain how those computers were critical in planning the Normandy landings. The images accompanying the article are not to be missed; infographics geeks in particular will appreciate Figure 4. Tidal and illumination diagram for Omaha Beach, 5–21 June 1944.

Maggie’s coverage on Boing Boing includes some cool bonus resource links.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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Comments

  1. Hank says:

    If you thought that was neat…U.S. Navy Analog Fire Control Computers http://youtu.be/_8aH-M3PzM0
    (Be sure to watch the entire series. Its like a mini bachelors in mechanical engineering.)

  2. Hank says:

    If you thought that was neat…U.S. Navy Analog Fire Control Computers http://youtu.be/_8aH-M3PzM0
    (Be sure to watch the entire series. Its like a mini bachelors in mechanical engineering.)

  3. Gregg says:

    Interesting. The best though are managing the Observatory at Palomar Mountain. There are regular digital ones working, but the mechanical ones are hanging around in case the digital ones crash.

  4. Gregg says:

    Interesting. The best though are managing the Observatory at Palomar Mountain. There are regular digital ones working, but the mechanical ones are hanging around in case the digital ones crash.

  5. Gregg says:

    Interesting. The best though are managing the Observatory at Palomar Mountain. There are regular digital ones working, but the mechanical ones are hanging around in case the digital ones crash.

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