Join Charles Petzold for a fascinating glimpse into the early history of computers, a glimpse he calls “Computer of the Tides: Lord Kelvin’s Machine to Disprove Evolution.” Charles is speaking at the wonderful Ada’s Technical Books in Seattle on Tuesday, October 30, at 6:30pm.

Here’s an overview of the talk from Charles:

“In the late 1860s and early 1870s, British scientist William Thomson—later known as Lord Kelvin—developed a technique based on Fourier analysis to mathematically predict the pattern of tides for particular seaports. Never just a theoretical physicist, Thomson then designed a machine to carry out these calculations.  One of these tide-predicting machines is on view in the Science Museum in London.

Today we categorize this machine as a special-purpose analog computer. While it’s certainly interesting from a technical perspective, it also has a surprising role in the history of 19th century science: William Thomson began his research into the tides in the midst of the Darwin Wars following the 1859 publication of The Origin of Species, and part of the impetus behind this astonishing machine was nothing less than to prove Darwin wrong.

From the clash of thermodynamics, geology, and evolution, the era of analog computing was born.”

As you might know, Charles is currently working on Programming Windows, Sixth Edition, which shows you how to write Windows 8 apps with C# and XAML. You can purchase the current incremental ebook release here. If you do, you’ll also get the final ebook when it’s published.

We hope to see you at Ada’s later this month!