Imagine the fearful gnashings of mathematicians in November, 1928 upon reading this account of the USGS's new "brass brain," which could "do the work of 100 trained mathematicians" in calculating tides:
The machine weighs 2,500 pounds. It is 11 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 6 feet high. Its whirring cogs are enclosed in a housing of mahogany and glass.
Earthquakes, fresh-water floods, and strong winds that cannot be predicted affect the accuracy of the Brass Brain to a degree. Nevertheless 70% of the predicted tides agree within five minutes of the observed tide. The Coast and Geodetic Survey issues an annual bulletin in which it lists the forthcoming tides in 84 ports of the world. The report contains upwards of a million figures, all compiled by the Brass Brain. It has been estimated that the Brass Brain saves the government $125,000 each year in salaries of mathematicians who would be required to take its place.
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