Sunday, June 26, 2011

Coincidence of the day

I read both of the following sentences within the last 72 hours.

From "Dream Machine", by Rivka Galchen, in the New Yorker, 2 May 2011, page 39:

In the early nineteenth century, a "computer" was any person who computed: someone who did the math for building a bridge, for example.

From "Cryptonomicon", by Neal Stephenson (1999), page 827:

At this point in history (April of 1945) the word that denotes a person who sits and performs arithmetical calculations is "computer."

The curious thing about this is that I have been reading "Cryptonomicon", off and on, for over a year, so the chance of my stumbling upon this particular sentence, buried within a 900-page book, within a couple of days after having read Galchen's piece from the New Yorker must be pretty small. Mathematically speaking.