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By James Barter

A Medieval Knight.

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Even as he explained that the Analytical Engine could never interpret its own results, Menabrea qualified: "mliess indeed this very imerpretation be itself susceptible of expression by means of the symbols which the machine employs" (Babbage 3: 112). A significant part of interpretation was translation, and if the machine "spoke" the language into which the results were to be interpreted, then it was interpreting its own results. Even while they acknowledged that signs affected one's understanding of a concept, Menabrea, Lovelace, and Babbage did not believe that language was identical to thought or that any sign system could represent the internal processes of a mind or machine.

In ari 1838 study of the electric fish, he called the currents he detected in its nerves "the greatest analogy that we have between the unknown force in nerves and that of electricity" (Brazier, 20 • Ne~orking Alessandro Volta's battery. (From Alessandro Volta, Collezione dell' opere del cavaliere Conte Alessandro Volta [Firenze: G. Piatti, 1816], val. 3, plate 2). Neurophysiology in the Nineteenth Century 31). Despite the success of Volta's battery, debates revived about the relationship between electrical forces studied in laboratories and those observed in living bodies.

Gradually, he moved the stimulating electrode further and further away from the muscle and studied the way in which this time interval varied with distance. Once one subtracted a certain minimal latency, which occurred even when one stimulated directly at the muscle, it became apparent that the impulse The Language of the Nerves • 27 Hermann von Helmholtz's organa-technical circuit for determining the velocity of nerve impulses along a frog's sciatic nerve (AB), with some minor modifications by Emil DuBoisReymond.

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