By Nicholas Metropolis
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When I arrived at Bletchley I was met at the station by Hugh Alexander, the British chess champion. On the walk to the office Hugh revealed to me a number of secrets about the ENIGMA. Of course, we were not really supposed to talk about such things outside the precincts of the office. I shall never forget that sensational conversation. Incidentally, I think Alexander was one of the most intelligent people I've known, and I've known a lot of intelligent people. Alexander at that time was the deputy head of a department run by the famous Alan Turing in a building known as Hut 8.
The astronomer Harlow Shapley was the prominent master of ceremonies. On the way, trying to be interesting to Aiken, I made the^remark as a strict amateur that I felt the existence and uniqueness theorems of the mathematicians that the physicists and applied mathematicians had spurned for decades were now going to come into their own. What I had in mind was the concept of the arithmetization of analysis, which had played a prominent role in motivating the work of Weierstrass and others, now could receive a practical realization because you could reduce so much to arithmetic.
Richardson may have had similar ideas in the 1920s, they were not supported by new ideas for computing hardware. I believe that it is today more efficient to use a computer than a wind tunnel in some transonic flow regimes. Whatever the truth is, it was a very hard act to follow, especially because just after von Neumann spoke someone got up and said this was the most exciting talk he had ever heard in his life. * Another speaker at that same meeting was Douglas Hartree, who spoke about using the differential analyzer to solve problems by the method of lines, a method that was developed later by Dorodnicyn.