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Fred Uckfield May 29, 2002 03:16

Boy Scouts - 'C'FD simulation?
I was once told that the first fluid dynamics 'computation' was done using a whole load of boy scouts, each with a simple mathematical role to perform. They passed information around the group using bits of paper with simple sums on.

Seem to think this could have been over 100 years ago.

Too surreal to be true? CFD urban myth? Anyone heard anything similar?


Ivar S. Ertesvåg May 29, 2002 05:36

Re: Boy Scouts - 'C'FD simulation?
Robert Fitzroy (or Fitz Roy) introduce some kind of finite difference computation in his "The weather book: A manual of practical meteorology", 2nd ed. London 1863. (see p.220, 419) This was used for practical computations for weather forecasting in the 19th century.

Lewis F. Richardson: "Weather prediction by numerical process", London 1922 (reprint 1965, Dover publ, NY) describes ideas about (p.219:"Let's play with phantasy") what we may call manual massive parallel processing of weather data, and he also describes methods for finite difference computations.

Ivar S. Ertesvåg Trondheim, Norway

Pete May 29, 2002 08:19

Re: Boy Scouts - 'C'FD simulation?
I can see it now: "add the flux from the North scout and the South scout...."

Maybe this is where Star Trek got the idea for the Borg collective?!

Alton Reich May 29, 2002 09:41

Re: Boy Scouts - 'C'FD simulation?

I have never heard the story that you relate, but it is highly unlikely that it would have taken place over 100 years ago (with emphasis on the "over"). Boy Scouts of America was incorporated in 1910. In England, it's harder to pin down an exact starting date because individual Scout troops formed before there was an actual nation Scout association. Lord Baden-Powell published "Scouting for Boys" (the first "handbook" for Boy Scouts) in 1908, however, his "Aids to Scouting" was published in 1899. Organization of the Boy Scouts in England really started in 1908 with the publishing of "Scouting for Boys" and the first organized camp.

Is it possible that a group of Boy Scouts could have performed a simple CFD calculation at some point? I think so. I played some simple math games with my Cub Scouts last year. I suppose that I could have arranged them so that they were doing a calculation of some significance even if they didn't know it...

Regards, Alton

An Modh Coinniolach May 29, 2002 10:14

Re: Boy Scouts - 'C'FD simulation?
Arthur C. CLarke wrote a story about a starship crew that lost all their computational facilities and used abaci to calculate a route back home.

U June 4, 2002 13:58

Re: Boy Scouts - 'C'FD simulation?
Read "The power of word" from E.A.Poe. I am sure you will find the allegory amusing. If Jules Vernes invented envisage space travel and submarine before it appears E.A.Poe forecasted CFD in his own way...

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