Computers & Mobile Science
Analog Tide Computers and the D-Day Invasion

Bruce Parker, former Chief Scientist and eleven-year veteran of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, wrote this fascinating article in the September issue of Physics Today. It covers the technical history of the science of tide prediction leading up to the beautiful mechanical computers developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to quickly extrapolate recorded tide patterns into useful predictions, and goes on to explain how those computers were critical in planning the Normandy landings. The images accompanying the article are not to be missed; infographics geeks in particular will appreciate Figure 4. Tidal and illumination diagram for Omaha Beach, 5–21 June 1944.

Maggie’s coverage on Boing Boing includes some cool bonus resource links.


I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan