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An encounter with Russell Kirsch, inventor of the world's first internally programmable computer

Joel Runyon:

"That’s the problem with a lot of people”, he continued, “they don’t try to do stuff that’s never been done before, so they never do anything, but if they try to do it, they find out there’s lots of things they can do that have never been done before."

I nodded my head in agreement and laughed to myself – thinking that would be something that I would say and the coincidence that out of all the people in the coffee shop I ended up talking to, it was this guy. What a way to open a conversation.The old man turned back at his coffee, took a sip, and then looked back at me.

“In fact, I’ve done lots of things that haven’t been done before”, he said half-smiling.

Not sure if he was simply toying with me or not, my curiousity got the better of me.

"Oh really? Like what types of things?, All the while, half-thinking he was going to make up something fairly non-impressive."

"I invented the first computer."

Happy Feynmaneve!

Tomorrow would have been the 94th birthday of one of the most influential physicists in American history.

Tonight: We play the bongos.

Video Link

Via Paul Halpern

Meet Slovak Batman

Zoltan Kohari, known as the Slovak Batman, poses in his home in the town of Dunajska Streda, 34 miles (55 km) south of Bratislava. Kohari, who is 26 years old, lives alone in an abandoned building without water, heat or electricity. For local residents he became known as "the hero in a Batman's costume." While he has not fought crime yet, he does believe in justice and wants to help the police. In the mean time, Kohari, who is poor, does what he can to help the residents to make their daily life easier. In return, some of these residents give him food. (REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa, photo dated March 8, 2012)

Mr. Wizard premiered 59 years ago, today

Not having seen him in action since the Nickelodeon days back in the 80s, I'd almost forgotten how well Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert did the job of communicating science. A radio actor and documentary producer, Herbert created the first science-experiment centric TV show, "Watch Mr. Wizard", which premiered on Chicago's WNBQ-TV in 1951. Within months, the show had moved to its natural and cosmically-correct time slot—Saturday mornings.

Bonus: The clip above features the first intelligent girl I have ever seen in a 1950s television show. I can only assume she was carted off to the gulag as soon as filming wrapped.

And, yes, I realize that 59 is a weird anniversary to celebrate. But, you know what, it's Mr. Wizard. We'll celebrate this year, and next year, too. Try and stop me.