Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine was a century before its time. So why not build it now?
John Graham-Cumming is launching a project to finish Charles Babbage's dream and build an Analytical Engine for public display. His hope is that future generations of scientists will stand before the completed Analytical Engine and be inspired to work on their own 100-year leaps.
Back in August The New York Times reported that the word ‘statistics’ had replaced the word ‘plastics’ in the famous career guidance given in the film The Graduate. And more recently the same paper reported that data and its analysis are the future of science. And it’s not just in business and ivory towers that statistical
analysis of masses of data is becoming important: just understanding
the wealth of percentages, risk factors and charts that confront us
all requires a form of ‘data literacy’.
There's a long tradition in the UK of direct democracy, with citizens
petitioning the Prime Minister themselves. Typically, thousands of
signatures are collected on paper and then delivered directly to the
Prime Minister's home at No. 10
Downing Street in London. The petitioners arrive at No. 10 and
hand the signatures through the open front door.
But the British government has made great strides to bring many
aspects of government relations into the electronic age. Through the
non-profit MySociety.org the
government has created web sites for
citizens to interact with local and central government offices. One such web site is the No. 10 Downing Street petitions page.