A schematic diagram of the Phillips water computer, built in the 1940s to model the British economy, in Like Water for Money, a guest post by Steven Strogatz in the New York Times “The Wild Side” blog. It’s a good read, too. (via)
I’m always happy to see people come across this rather charming, if slightly impractical, analogue computer. I also hadn’t realised there was on in Cambridge; I know of it from the (non-functional, sadly) example in the Science Museum’s computing gallery.
Amazing. I keep coming across these kinds of things and thinking, “Hey, that was in the last Terry Pratchett novel!” (Making Money). You think that building a hydraulic model of the economy is ridiculous and great satirical skit, and then you find that someone actually did it. Another instance was when I found out that clowns actually do register their ‘face’ (their distinctive makeup) by painting it on an egg.
This doesn’t lessen my admiration for him at all. In fact, I marvel that he manages to find all this esoteric stuff and then weave it into his novels.