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    Re: Slocum's lunars
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2003 Dec 14, 21:56 +0000

    Jan Kalivoda said-
    >George, sorry, but I cannot understand you:
    >> In those days, tables for printing were set by hand, and there was much
    >> scope for things to go wrong. I have read of other cases of printed errors,
    >> and we can't reject the possibility of a whole column of them.
    >If I can imagine the process of preparing the book by hand, the digits of
    >table values were set one by one. Accordingly, I can understand a casual
    >printing error in one digit of one logarithm, but what mental process could
    >cause the error in a whole vertical column, while adjacent columns should be
    Response from George.
    Perhaps it's unlikely, as Jan says. It might be a misunderstanding, by the
    printer, of the columns in the manuscript sheet that had been given to him.
    But now that Jan raises the question, I am less confident about it.
    >And two following paragraphs seem to be contradictory:
    >> Nor can we reject the possibility that Slocum did something wrong, got a
    >> silly answer, and then found a way to "fiddle" things to get a better one
    >> by altering a set of numbers in a table. But Slocum would be asking for
    >> trouble in doing that, because it would be so easy to check it
    >> retrospectively. Publishing it in a book, which would be widely read by his
    >> seagoing contemporaries, he was surely aware that the first question
    >> another mariner would ask him would be "What was the table that was wrong,
    >> and what were those errors?", so that they could correct their own copies.
    >Therefore it would have been dangerous for Slocum to lay false claim for
    >correcting a table value?
    >> I agree with Herbert that his claim to have detected, and then corrected,
    >> an error in a table was a remarkable feat: so remarkable as to make it hard
    >> to accept.
    >Or not?
    Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself.
    There are two arguments being presented here, that pull in contrary
    directions. I am unable to choose between them with any confidence. It's an
    interesting puzzle.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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