Neil's News

Slide Rule

6 June 2004

"Anyone who can't use a slide rule is a cultural illiterate, and should not be allowed to vote." -- Robert A. Heinlein

With the European elections scheduled for Thursday, I don't want to miss out. So I used some of last week's bizarre eBay winnings to purchase a new slide rule.

[Photograph of slide rule]
Facinating device. I was up most of the night cranking out multiplications and divisions, learning which scales to use for maximum resolution and how to avoid 'off scale' results. The best part is I now have something to thwack people with when they tease me about the 1972 HP-35 RPN calculator I have on my desk.

Update: A gentleman from Boeing contacted me to complain that my JavaScript HP-35 simulation had a bug. He was calculating the square of the speed of light, and got entirely the wrong answer. I tracked it down to JavaScript interpreting exponents "08" and "09" as being in octal format. The calculator has been corrected. Next time I see my bank manager I'm investing in Boeing stock (BA), their next plane sounds like it's going to be FAST.

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