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Turing and interaction at the Science Museum in London

Zoe RomanoMarch 4th, 2013

Looping by Hirsch&Mann

Codebreaker is the exhibition started last year at  the Science Museum of London and celebrating  the centenary of the birth of computing pioneer Alan Turing.

Hirsch&Mann were commissioned to create a “series of exhibits which demonstrated and recognized the progress in computing while at the same time representing a spirit of engineering and innovation” .

They created three installations that demonstrated 3 programming principles:

LOOPING: A spinning rotor with LEDs on it -> creating POV patterns all controlled by 30 arcade style illuminated switches.

CONDITIONALS: A version of Wolfram’s cellular automata – user was able to choose the result of the child node once the parent node conditions were met

VARIABLES: A mechanical tree – the branch angles were controlled by sliders on the console. Slider A controlled 1 angles at the base of the tree, slider 2 controlled the next 2 angles, slider 3, the next 4 angles and slider 4 the final 8 sliders.

Looping Console by Hirsch&Mann

Each installation has a light box which is revealed as soon as you press the BIG GLOWING button on the console. This turns on the lightbox – which has simplified pseudo code and essentially allows people to “step into” the code. Each line that is currently running is highlighted and then you see the result on the installation.

The whole point of these installations was to show where we have come since Turing’s time and stepping on his shoulders.

If you have the chance to visit the exhibition (it’s free!) or watch the video below you will see that at the center of each console there is an Arduino UNO.