A scene from Atlas Shrugged

Project X
Those familiar with Atlas Shrugged remember the infamous project X and sound/death ray machine. They probably remember the scene where Project X was first demonstrated to the public. During that scene, a goat was tethered to a post and subsequently destroyed by the machine. Quite chilling.

I bring this scene up because today, while reading Eniac: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer I came across a quote that was eerily similar to the scene in Atlas Shrugged. To build the context, Mauchly and Eckert, the two builders of Eniac, were on a trip to Aberdeen (an artillery testing installation) to pitch the idea of building an electronic computer to calculate artillery tables for the army. The US was in the midst of WWII and in disparate need of a faster way to calculate these tables, because the human calculators were taking too long.

In describing Aberdeen, Lieutenant Colonel Keith Adamson said "In Aberdeen, we have a goat tethered to a stick with a ten-foot rope, and we have promised a big prize to anyone who can kill the goat with a death ray."

Is it just me, or is that description frighteningly similar? Can it be a coincidence? Since I have nothing to go one except pure speculation, I'll stop right here. But it does make me wonder.

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