Science Museum - The Difference Engine & The Science of Spying


Science Museum
Exhibition Road
South Kensington


GPS grid coordinates:
Latitude: (WGS84) N51:29:51 ( 51.497488 )
Longitude: (WGS84) W0:10:28 ( -0.174507 )

Apart from the general Computing section, there is special CyberPunk interest in the working model of Charles Babbage's mechanical computing device, the Difference Engine, which is on display.

Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was one of the first "computer programmers" who helped Charles Babbage to program his prototypes.

Both of these historical figures also featured in William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's "SteamPunk" novel The Difference Engine

The main Computing display also includes a scaled down working model of a machine called Pilot ACE. This was was Alan Turing Blue Plaque in Hampton High Street, in the outer London suburb of Richmond, which is where he lived during that period.

Alan Turing was also one of the pioneers of computer based Artificial Intelligence, giving us the Turing Test, so popular in science fiction. The "Turing Institute", which supposedly regulated advanced Artificial Intelligences (AIs) , features in WIlliam Gibson's famous CyberPunk novel Neuromancer

The Science Museum also has an example of the hand cranked Curta Calculator, as featured in William Gibson's Pattern Recognition

Also, The Science of Spying exhibition (until 2nd September), is aimed at children of all ages, and covers techniques and technologies of espionage and surveillance, and the basic science which supports them. [This exhibition is now closed]

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