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revolving mass of air resulting from local atmospheric instability, such as that caused by intense heating of the ground by the sun on a hot summer day. Examples of whirlwinds are waterspoutswaterspout,
tornado occurring at sea or over inland waters. The characteristic funnel-shaped cloud is formed at the base of a cumulus-type cloud and extends downward to the water surface, where it picks up spray.
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, tornadoestornado,
dark, funnel-shaped cloud containing violently rotating air that develops below a heavy cumulonimbus cloud mass and extends toward the earth. The funnel twists about, rises and falls, and where it reaches the earth causes great destruction.
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, small whirls of dust or leaves, and the sand whirls of the desert, called dust devils or dust whirls.
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What does it mean when you dream about a whirlwind?

To encounter a whirlwind in a dream may indicate that the dreamer has been on a whirlwind schedule. The force and power of a whirlwind might also indicate that the dreamer is being lifted up and placed on an entirely new life path.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


A small local tornado in dry air, without clouds and rain. Sometimes called a dust devil.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


a column of air whirling around and towards a more or less vertical axis of low pressure, which moves along the land or ocean surface
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


An early computer from the MIT Research Laboratory for Electronics.

Whirlwind used electrostatic memory and ran Laning and Zierler (1953); and ALGEBRAIC, COMPREHENSIVE and SUMMER SESSION (all 1959).

This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)


The first electronic digital computer used in a real-time application and the first to use magnetic core memory. The Whirlwind was originally intended to be a general-purpose aircraft simulator for the U.S. Navy, but evolved into a general-purpose computer that became the prototype for the SAGE air defense system (see SAGE). Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, construction began in 1947. It became operational in the early 1950s.

Its first memory used electrostatic storage tubes that proved unreliable, and in 1953, magnetic core memory was added, dramatically improving performance and reliability. The Whirlwind used 2K words of core memory and magnetic drum and tape for storage. The machine was continually enhanced, eventually using 12,000 vacuum tubes and 20,000 diodes and occupying two floors of an MIT campus building.

Whirlwind's circuit design, core memory and use of CRTs contributed greatly in the making of future computers. Project members later worked on IBM's 700 series. One in particular, Kenneth Olsen, founded Digital Equipment Corporation.

Whirlwind I
In the early 1950s, the Whirlwind was the prototype computer for the U.S. air defense system. It was also the first to use core memory. (Image courtesy of The MITRE Corporation Archives.)

Kenneth H. Olsen
Olsen worked on the Whirlwind and later pioneered the minicomputer industry with his PDP computer series. He founded and ran Digital Equipment Corporation for 35 years until his retirement in 1992. (Image courtesy of Digital Equipment Corporation.)
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References in periodicals archive ?
Whirlwinds would normally last for a few seconds to a minute and have a fast moving vortex because these are smaller in size as compared to a tornado or 'buhawi.'
Dad had purchased a Whirlwind terracer to build dirt terraces on our dryland farm near Perryton, Texas.
. The on stage Many moons ago, in 1962 when Eric Gillies played guitar with The Whirlwinds, the band played at Boosbeck Village Hall and my friend Sylvia persuaded me to go with her to see them.
/ 19 October 2010, SPA -- Experts from the Gulf Cooperation Council&'s member states started here today a debate on a study presented by Kuwait on the phenomenon of dust and whirlwinds. The recommendations of the two-day meeting will be forwarded to the Ministerial...
A WHIRLWINDS were twin-engined, lowwinged planes and very fast for the time.
The desert whirlwinds are typically only a few hundred meters tall and feature 60-km/hr gusts.
Wittlinger handles these emotional whirlwinds with great skill and intelligence.
As whirlwinds of painted and drawn pattern--the surfaces depicted include wallpaper, flooring, and upholstery--jumbled with hard-edged swatches of poured color, they negotiated a tempestuous push-pull, becoming a sort of manic, quasi-illusionist take on Frank Stella's late '60s abstractions.
"Whirlwinds are often conducted in social situations and people don't split up because their loved one is not an interesting partner at parties but because they never do the laundry.