Check out YouTube to see a Type II Curta calculator in action 🙂
Category Archives: Special Projects
See and hear the mini-WASP in action
Here on YouTube.
See the Paramount ME check around over 90 pounds of gear as if it were weightless 🙂 Some of the deep-sky images on the Scientific Artist have been taken with this kit – plenty more coming up soon, if the weather plays ball.
Where did I first come across the Curta calculator?
I am pretty sure the first time I saw a picture of the Curta calculator, and therefore became aware of its existence, was when I saw the advert for one in the Scientific American magazine. I would have been around 16 or so, that means around 1970. Curiously, 1970 also heralds the demise of the Curta calculator as this is around the time when the first four function electronic calculators made their appearance. The Curtas looked very interesting to me even back in 1970, mainly because at school we were working with slide rules and therefore had far fewer significant digits at our disposal when performing numerical calculations. Also, although interesting, they were way outside my budget range as a 16 year old school kid with no job or income, so the Curta was just a very interesting curiosity.
I enrolled for Maths, Physics and Chemistry at “A”-level and we continued to use the slide-rule for numerical calculations, along with log tables (remember them?) The super-trendy amongst us with rich parents had cylindrical slide rules, where the standard linear slide rule is “rolled around” a cylinder giving a longer effective length to the rule, and therefore the possibility of calculating to more significant digits. But none of us had a Curta – no other pupil that is, but the teacher for the Pure Maths part of the “A”-level course DID have a Curta calculator, and very proud of it he was too. He pulled his Curta (I’m pretty sure it was a Type I) from a soft fabric pouch and showed it to us from a distance of several feet, cradling it in both hads for safety. I remember the feeling of awe being in the presence of this incredible machine. Clearly this brief moment in time stuck with me for the intervening 42 years and I now find myself in the extremely pleasant position of being able to afford to buy the toys that I could never afford as a kid – the Curta being one such beautiful toy. I now have superb examples of both the Type I and the Type II Curta calculator, both in pristine condition.
Although I am a William Gibson fan, and read Pattern Recognition some while back, I do not (consciously) recall the Curta calculator even making an appearance in the book (which it most certainly does). However, the unconscious is a strange and powerful beast, so although I cannot consciously remember reading about the Curta in Pattern Recognition, I am pretty certain my subconscious didn’t miss it, and this has driven my recent resurgence of interest into this most amazing precision engineering achievement 🙂 Thank you Curt Herzstark for creating such happiness with your incredible invention.
More Curta calculator images
Got the Earth Science Picture of the Day for August 5th 2012 with the Algol/Rho Persei image. Thank you Jim for continuing to publish the images coming out of the New Forest Observatory 🙂
Another 6-months of Sun trails from the New Forest Observatory pinhole camera
Looking to the south, the Tea caddy pinhole camera has been imaging from winter Solstice 2011 until now, summer Solstice 21st June 2012. The topmost Sun trail is from today and the bottom Sun trail is the Sun at its lowest at the winter Solstice. These trails give a good idea of what the weather has been doing over the past 6-months.
2012 Sony World Photography Awards
Published in National Geographic online
I had absolutely no idea that a couple of my images have appeared on National Geographic online.
One is the spirogyra photomicroscopy shot and the other is the very recent M13 great Hercules globular cluster image 🙂
The whole of the 2012 Transit of Venus captured as a photo montage
The June 2012 Transit of Venus – and not a cloud in sight
I just pulled an all-nighter downloading images as they appeared from the orbiting solar dynamics observatory from 11:00 p.m. on the 5th until 6:00 a.m. on the 6th. Put all the images together to create this little animation 🙂 Enjoy!