Long, long ago in a nearby land lived a lot of men and women who knew how to use a slide rule. It was a wonderful thing that could help these men and women do very complex mathematics that now we need computers to do. With the use of these things, humans invented computers and put people into space.
There were always a bunch of these around my house, (there still are) because my dad was a mathematician. Sometimes my dad attempted to teach me to use one, but those moments never went well. Using a slide rule was second nature to my dad and he wasn’t the most patient person in the world. I don’t think he ever thought about how long it it had taken him to learn. Still, he had one in high school as did all the smart kids in my classes. I was in dumb kids math.
Along with the slide rule were books of tables. I tossed dozens of these in the great purge of 2017 because they literally have no meaning at all to anyone anymore.
I still look at slide rules in wonderment just like my dad would probably look at my cell phone if he suddenly appeared in my living room. The difference is, he would soon be able to work the cell phone. I’ll never be able to use his slide rules.
BUT…a couple of years ago I participated in my second ever demonstration (my first was Earth Day, 1970, the first one ❤ ). It was the March for Science. I made a poster to honor my dad who was a scientist in Colorado Springs (where I marched).
It was a chilly day and I was already suffering from osteoarthritis in my left hip though at that point I just knew I couldn’t walk very well, and I hurt, I didn’t know why. It took science to determine what was wrong, mathematicians to devise the most accurate way to measure the repairs I would need, and a scientist to repair me.
The March for Science in Colorado Springs was a wonderful experience. It was a small march, mostly families and earnest nerds like this man holding a sign that my dad could have read.
In case you’re curious about slide rules, I found some videos on Youtube. This video is even more obscure in its explanation and instruction than was my dad. My dad’s explanation was directed toward showing me how to use a slide rule to get answers to math problems. It probably would have worked on a person who didn’t hyperventilate as soon as numbers were put in front of her.