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.