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Svein Rosseland and the Oslo Analyzer

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129963D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 18 page(s) / 69K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

PER A. HOLST: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

You might say the University of Oslo, Norway, in the late 1930s was an unlikely place to encounter a large mechanical differential analyzer. But talented people are found in every corner of the world, so also in Norway. The young, bright, energetic scientist Svein Rosseland was an unusual talent who brought both attention and acknowledgment to an otherwise unknown and out-of-the-ordinary locality. The announcement of the completion of the mechanical differential analyzer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1930 marked, in many ways, a calendar change in scientific computation. Dr. Vannevar Bush's description' of its powers stimulated people the world over to follow suit. The new mechanical machine not only promised to revolutionize the way scientific research was conducted but also produced results of noteworthy proportions. This was such a new tool that nobody in the scientific community felt they could continue without one. With Bush's analyzer it suddenly seemed possible that almost anyone could solve equations that before had been intractable. For many it was a question of getting this tool or be passed by in competitive research fields. Theoretical astrophysics was one of these fields. By nature mathematical and abstract, it relies on the formulation and exploration of complex equations. It depends to a large degree on the successful solution of these equations for evaluating and expanding its progress. Analysis and interpretation of analytical results lay the foundation for deeper insights and give rise to the formulation of new theories about the origins of the universe, the forces at play in relativistic realms, and the celestial mechanics of the stars and planets.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Svein Rosseland and the Oslo Analyzer

PER A. HOLST

At one time the world's largest mechanical differential analyzer was located at Blindem, Norway, at Oslo University's Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics. It was built by a Norwegian instrument firm, borrowing much of its details from the famous MIT design by Vannevar Bush. For a few years this mechanical analytical tool ranked as the world's foremost differential equation solver. The Oslo analyzer was technically advanced, highly accurate, and, surprisingly, it was the most accessible large computational resource available to theoretical physicists in the world. Its success was primarily due to Professor Svein Rosseland. He was a bright, young astrophysicist who had impressed his fellow physicists around the world with his talents and imaginative Noughts.

Introduction

You might say the University of Oslo, Norway, in the late 1930s was an unlikely place to encounter a large mechanical differential analyzer. But talented people are found in every corner of the world, so also in Norway. The young, bright, energetic scientist Svein Rosseland was an unusual talent who brought both attention and acknowledgment to an otherwise unknown and out-of-the-ordinary locality.

The announcement of the completion of the mechanical differential analyzer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1930 marked, in many ways, a calendar change in scientific computation. Dr. Vannevar Bush's description' of its powers stimulated people the world over to follow suit. The new mechanical machine not only promised to revolutionize the way scientific research was conducted but also produced results of noteworthy proportions. This was such a new tool that nobody in the scientific community felt they could continue without one. With Bush's analyzer it suddenly seemed possible that almost anyone could solve equations that before had been intractable. For many it was a question of getting this tool or be passed by in competitive research fields.

Theoretical astrophysics was one of these fields. By nature mathematical and abstract, it relies on the formulation and exploration of complex equations. It depends to a large degree on the successful solution of these equations for evaluating and expanding its progress. Analysis and interpretation of analytical results lay the foundation for deeper insights and give rise to the formulation of new theories about the origins of the universe, the forces at play in relativistic realms, and the celestial mechanics of the stars and planets.

During the period of burgeoning scientific progress in the 1920s, achievements in theoretical and experimental physics grew by leaps and bounds. Theories and laboratory experiments leapfrogged to further progress, scientific insight, and bett...