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Friday, June 24, 2005

Strangelove Slide Rule: Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer

I've just posted an interactive Web edition of the Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer slide rule which accompanied the 1962 book The Effects of Nuclear Weapons. This is a project which has been on my "to do" list for a long time. Originally, I thought in terms of a JavaScript-based calculator but, as I describe in the document, was finally won over by the nearly forgotten advantages of slide rules and nomograms which let you see the whole range of possible inputs yielding a given solution and easily work inverse problems.

The result is a CGI server-based application which presents the results in the original form--on a replica of the slide rule set for the inputs specified numerically by the user. The instructions which accompanied the slide rule have been transcribed, with illustrations added which show how to read values from the various scales. The production notes explain how the original plastic slide rule was transmogrified into its present Web incarnation.

Those who prefer a physical slide rule will find downloadable images and directions for making their own.

Posted at June 24, 2005 00:52