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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Mark His Words
7 March 1997 7:45 pm
you'll have to ram them down people's throats."
Sunday, 9 March, would have been the 97th birthday of the late Howard Aiken, the computer scientist who built the first large-scale digital calculator. As part of a collaboration between Harvard University, IBM, and the U.S. Navy, in 1943, Aiken completed the revolutionary Mark I computer, a machine that greatly sped up calculations.
Aiken's team fabricated Mark I from thousands of telephone relays and IBM electromechanical parts such as counterwheels. Contained in a 50-square-meter frame of stainless steel and glass, the hulking machine at Harvard could process 23-digit numbers as well as logarithms and trigonometric functions--operations the Navy used for ballistics during World War II.
Operators fed data into Mark I using strips of punch-card paper; results were spat out by two electric typewriters connected to the machine. It took as long as 5 seconds to perform one simple operation; today's supercomputers can perform upward of a trillion operations per second. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, Aiken died on 14 March 1973 in St. Louis.