The Babbage difference engine is just one example of how awesome math used to look. Thinking of mathematicians in the old days, I get a mental picture of this half-blind man scribbling furiously on his five hundredth equation-riddled page of the evening, machines cranking away at hard sums in the background, with a T-shirt that reads “MATHEMATICIANS DO IT WITH INTEGRALS”. I’m not implying that math is any less awesome these days, it just puts on less of a show. You know, what with impossibly powerful processors and all.

It would be great just to have one of these in your room, though, so if someone wanders in with a difficult math problem you could say “Ooh, good question, hang on a second and let me calculate that,” and run over to your Babbage difference engine (No. 2). They’d be so impressed with all the turning shining things, they’d probably buy any answer you gave them. Because you’ve got a difference engine.

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