May / June 2003


The revealed grace of the mechanism: computing after Babbage

The dissident Soviet historian Roy Medvedev said of the course of history, that we can learn as much of our destination from the road by which we arrived (and even from the turnings that we didn't take) as from our present position. In the 1990 'cybernetic Victorian novel' The Difference Engine, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling memorably explored one such untaken turning. Their vision of an alternative 1855 showed a Britain in which Charles Babbage had successfully promoted his Analytical Engine, leading to a computer revolution a century early.


Laboratory information faces a clinical trial

Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) have always been closely associated with analytical instrumentation. In search of new markets, LIMS companies are branching out into the drug discovery lab or into forensic science. But one company, already well established in the quality control aspects of process industries and pharmaceuticals, is extending from its traditional business into clinical trials - where there will be not a chromatograph in sight.


Adding up the value of maths

Scientists and engineers have been using Mathcad for years to perform and document critical calculations, but Mathsoft is now promoting an 'enterprise edition'. What lies behind this?

Mathcad's greatest value is as a knowledge-capture mechanism. In industry, there's a lot of money being spent on 'knowledge management', but calculations were off the radar, so it's time to put them under the management. Mathcad has been the perfect vehicle for that for years. It is very good at capturing knowledge and highlighting that to managers.


Speaking out to a wall of silence

Albert Einstein once famously said: 'If A equals success, then the formula is: A equals X plus Y plus Z. X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut.' While Richard Bader has plenty of X and Y, it is probably a lack of Z that has withheld from him over the years the recognition that many feel he truly deserves.