Books Magazine

Computers, Models, Clocks at the Science Museum, London #BriFri #Photos

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week, I posted photos of the steam engines at the Science Museum in London, but there are many more displays. Here are some of the others we visited.

Computers. My heroine in college as a baby computer programmer was Lady Ada Lovelace, often considered the first programmer because she designed algorithms for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. So, it was a real thrill for me to see some of Charles Babbage’s early machines. I’d seen drawings — I didn’t realize that there were extant examples of his work.

Analytical Engine by Charles Babbage, Science Museum, London

The Analytical Engine was never completed. Here’s the portion of the Analytical Engine that was finished when Charles Babbage died. According to the sign, it “would have been over 4 metres tall and 6 metres long, and probably powered by steam.

Punch cards for the Analytical Engine by Charles Babbage, Science Museum, London

According to the sign, “The Analytical Engine would have been programmed using punched cards, an idea Babbage took from looms used to weave patterned cloth.” These remind me of the punch cards for my dad’s computer at work and my first programming class.

Rick got a kick out of seeing the first computer he worked on in a display case at a museum.

PDP-8 minicomputer, Science Museum, London

The PDP-8 Minicomputer. The oldest computer I worked on in college was the next generation, the PDP-11.

Science in the 18th Century. The King George III collection of scientific instruments was very helpful in our understanding of the scientific revolution and how it filtered out to the middle class, making the steam engine revolution possible. It became fashionable to attend scientific lectures with demonstrations, even for women. The wealthy, like King George III, collected models and instruments. Of course, they were made beautiful as well as functional for that purpose.

Model of Newcomen Engine, Science Museum, London

Rick (reflected) examining a model of a Newcomen steam engine.

Measuring Time. Also fitting into our fascination with 18th century science, the clock and watch exhibit built on the experience we had at Greenwich the day before.

Measuring Time exhibit, Science Museum, London

From the sign, “Accurate timekeeping was highly prized, attracting the finest craftsmen. Clock- and watchmakers pioneered precision in manufacture and an understanding of materials that underpinnned engineering. Early craftsmen, labouring in small domestic workshops, learned to subdivide production into separate specialised tasks — inventing mass production before the factory system.”

More photos of our trip to the Science Museum and other sites in England are in my Flickr photostream.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog