Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Mr. Babbage and the Buskers," by Stephanie Pain. New Scientist, 16 August 2003,pages 42-43.

Charles Babbage is best known for his invention in the 19th century of thefirst mechanical calculator, a precursor of the modern-day computer. Thisarticle takes a look at a different part of Babbage's life: His efforts to banstreet musicians in London. His dislike of the buskers that interrupted hiswork may not have been due simply to a curmudgeonly streak. The article notesthat, after Babbage died, an autopsy showed that he suffered from restrictedblood flow to the head, which may have caused an unusual sensitivity to sound.

--- Allyn Jackson

American Mathematical Society