On this day in 1947, computer pioneer Grace Hopper, then a young U.S. Navy lieutenant with a Ph.D in mathematics, coined the term “computer bug” to describe a problem that she found while testing Harvard University’s Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator, an early computer that included high-speed electromagnetic relays rather than mechanical counters used in the Mark I, its predecessor. She meant it in the literal as well as figurative sense. While testing the machine, she found a moth trapped between the circuitry at relay #7, panel F. Hopper and the other researchers affixed the moth to their laboratory log, with the entry: “First actual case of bug being found.”
Today, programmers use software tools called “debuggers” to monitor the execution of a program, stop it, re-start it, set breakpoints, change values in memory, and make other alterations.Hopper herself would go on to become a key figure in the development of computing.She led the design of the first commercial large-scale electronic computer, UNIVAC I, and was one of the inventors of COBOL, a seminal programming language used in military and business computers, in the late 1950s. (Among other features, COBOL made it possible for computers to respond to words, rather than numbers.) She also rose to the rank of Rear Admiral in the Navy, and was the first to voice the now-famous paradigm: “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” And without further ado, here are the science and technology stories of the day.
The ancestor of the ragworm possessed a primitive cortex 600 million years ago. And you thought you were so-o-o smart.
Laws of physics may vary in different parts of the universe. This might explain why the French think Jerry Lewis is so brilliant. Just kidding! And in fairness, they’ve always been fond of Mickey Rourke, too.