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VIRTUAL EVENT: MEMBER'S CHOICE: Two Times Two Is about Four: A Hands-On History of the Slide Rule

Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Registration is requested
Members and Virtual Event Season Pass holders only, with no fee

Member's Choice: Two Times Two Is about Four: A Hands-On History of the Slide Rule

with Scott B. Guthery

Just as digital computers changed the twentieth century, the slide rule—in which two numbers are multiplied by adding their logarithms—vastly improved computing in the seventeenth century. But how were logarithms invented and how does a slide rule add them? And what do they have to do with barrels of wine?

There’s no better way to appreciate the impact of the slide rule on computing than using one. Pull your own slide rule out or use a slide rule simulator. The virtual workshop will interweave the fascinating stories of its history with practice sessions in its use, making it equally suitable for math enthuasiasts and those who don't think of themselves as mathematically inclined.

Scott B. Guthery, Ph.D. is a life-long inventor, entrepreneur and mathematician, with computer science career stops at Bell Laboratories, Schlumberger, and Microsoft. He is the founder of Docent Press (, which publishes books on the history of mathematics, computing, and technology. Not surprisingly, Scott’s docent tours always make a reverential stop at the second-floor statue of Nathaniel Bowditch, an accomplished nineteenth-century mathematician, navigator, and Athenaeum proprietor.

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Auto-generated captions are available for most virtual programs. To request live captioning or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 at least four business days prior to the event.