Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Old Gigontic Confusion

“On two occasions I have been asked, — ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’ In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower, House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.”

Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, (London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green, 1864), p. 67.


Anonymous said...

I saw a discussion on a blog once about the self-heating of mobile phone chargers when the phone was not being charged. I confessed that I couldn't understand the physics. The explanation offered astonished me - I had not been able rightly to apprehend that some people are so lazy as not to switch the charger off when not in use. I shall in future refer to a "Babbage moment".

Deogolwulf said...

A "Babbage Moment" is a fine name for it.

Unknown said...

Perhaps the gentlemen concerned were rather ahead of their time and were merely inquiring as to whether Babbage's machine's command interpreter included a DWIM facility.

Dude said...

Mr. Deogolwulf,

I used to go by Underground Dude, as you know.

Having moved and obtained a new internet connection, I proceeded to kill my former blog. However, I still intend to follow your blog and drop the occasional comment.

But the reason why I'm commenting now is to ask that you send me an e-mail, as there is no e-mail available in your Blogger profile, which is understandable.

The reason why I'd like you to send me an e-mail is that I'd like to share a piece of writing in order to profit from a benevolent critique of my foreign ineptitude at this regal language of commoners.

The piece is not very long: fifteen pages in Word.

I decided to ask you not only because you are the most polite Englishman with whom I've exchanged words on the internet, but also because I've always admired your grasp and command of English style.

But I'll understand if you have better things to do. I just thought I'd ask. Feel free to delete this comment.

Ayrdale said...

Is there something in the water that flows off the Pennines that leads to curmudgeonry ?

I were born in't Preston, so were me Dad...and I can't keep a smile on my face any more.

Anonymous said...

An excellent coinage, if it is yours; my congratulations.