Science: The Thinking Machine

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On Oxford Street in Cambridge, Mass. lives a sibyl, a priestess of science. Her devotees take their problems to her as devout ancient Greeks took their insolubles to Delphi. She is no mumbling, anonymous priestess, frothing her mouth with riddles. Her name is Bessie*; she is a long, slim, glass-sided machine with 760,000 parts, and the riddles that are put to her and that she unfailingly answers concern such matters as rocket motors, nuclear physics and trigonometric functions.

For a computing machine, Bessie is old: she has been steadily at work since...

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