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Computers and you
When Ch. Babbage, a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, invented the first calculating machine in 1812 he could hardly have imagined the situations we find ourselves in today. Almost everything in modern world is done with the help of computers - the complicated descendants (потомки) of his simple machine. Computers are being used more and more extensively in the world today, for the simple reason that they are far more efficient than human beings. They have much better memories and can store (запоминать) great amount of information and they can do calculations in a fraction of the time required by a human mathematician. No man alive can do 500,000 sums in one second, but a modem computer can.
In fact, computers can do many things we do, but faster and better. They can control machines at factories, work out tomorrow´s weather and even play chess, write poetry or compose music. Let’s look now at some of the ways in which computers concern people in their daily lives and work.
Many people associate computers with the world of science and mathematics, but they are also a great help to scholars in other subjects: in history, literature and so on. It is now possible for a scholar to find a book or an article he needs very quickly, which nowadays when a million or more new books are published each year is quite an advantage. You tell the computer which subject you are interested in and it produces any microfiche (микрофише, диамикрокарта) you need in seconds.
There are also systems which are being developed to translate articles from foreign magazines by computer and to make up many lists of information which are needed in a modern library. So, computer can help us to deal with the knowledge explosion in many ways. One can imagine a time when libraries will be run by computers, without human beings at all.
Or, let’s take another example. When a man drives a car for long distances he has two problems: to keep the car at a constant speed and watch that he does not run into the car in front of him. Engineers are now experimenting with a system which has a computer control of these two problems. The car’s computer keeps the speed constant. At the same time the distance between the car and any other car in front of it is measured by a beam of light transmitted forwards. The beam meets the rear reflectors of the car in front and it is reflected back, which enables to measure the distance. This information is fed to the computer which adjusts (регулировать) its speed control accordingly.