Page:Passages from the Life of a Philosopher.djvu/60
44 UNEXPECTED DIFFICULIT EXPLAINED.
wheels. As my own lathe was not fit for this job, I took the wheels to a wheel-cntter at Lambeth, to whom I carefully conveyed my mstructionSy leaymg with him a drawisg as his guide.
These wheels arriyed late one night, and the next morning I began putting them in action with my other mechanism^ when, to my utter astonishment, I found they were quite unfit for their task. I examined the shape of their teeth, compared them with those in the drawings, and found they agreed perfectly ; yet they could not perform their intended work. I had been so certain of the truth of my previous reasoning, that I now began to be somewhat uneasy. I reflected that^ if the reasoning about which I had been so certain should prove to have been really fallacious, I could then no longer trust the power of my own reason. I therefore went over with my wheels to the artist who had formed the teeth, in order that I might arrive at some explanation of this extraordinary contradiction.
On conferring with him, it turned out that, when he had understood fully the peculiar form of the teetli of wheels, he discovered that his wheel-cutting engine had not got amongst- its divisions that precise number which I had required. He therefore had asked me whether another number, which his machine possessed, would not equally Answer my object I had inadvertently replied in the affirmative. He then made arrangements for the precise number of teeth I required ; and the new wheels performed their expected duty perfectly.
The next step was to devise means for printing the tables to be computed by this machine. My first plan was to make it put together moveable type. I proposed to make metal boxes, each containing 3,000 types of one of the ton digits. These types were to be made to pass out one by one from the