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Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage - Brain

Babbage Brain

More on that Charles Babbage (inventor of the analytical engine, pre-cursor of what we now call the ‘Computer’: Well, he was a great lover of facts and data – they intoxicated him and he is known to have said “the preservation of any fact might ultimately be useful”. He did all sorts of peculiar things like measure the heartbeat of a calf and attempt to affix a numerical value to the breath of a calf. He even spent valuable time conducting research on something as obscure as the relative frequency of the causes of the breaking of plate glass widows! His conclusions were that there were 464 breakages, 14 of which were caused by drunkenness. He delighted in the thought of having a daily account of the food consumed by zoo animals and the statistical analysis of the “proportion of sexes” amongst our poultry. The thing about facts is that they do all have some intrinsic value; some intrinsic meaning even, whatever meaning is. They are part of a bigger picture, a bigger truth. One day, we may be equipped with the brains and processing power to understand and analyse the patterns; to know why things were they way they were. But in that day, we won’t be talking in terms of before and after or were and will be. Time: the construct may have ceased to exist altogether. Then – will facts matter? What will matter? What does?

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April 6, 2012 - Posted by | General

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