Ada Lovelace astride two cultures

Ada LovelaceRegular readers will have noticed my recent predilection for poetry.  I am going to deviate from the theme, but only slightly, by highlighting the work of Ada Lovelace who has been described as writing about differential calculus with the same passion that her father, Lord Byron wrote about forbidden love.  As I observed last week, we need more people who can write with passion about engineering and science; so it is appropriate following International Women’s Day on Sunday to highlight the work of Ada Lovelace who worked on programs for Babbage’s analytical engine. She could be described as the world’s first computer programmer.  However, she was much more than that because in her writings she foresaw a world in which computers would be aesthetic tools capable of creating language and art.  She was at least hundred years ahead of her time.  Perhaps growing up surrounded by poetry gave her the skills to express her passion for technology and the vision to see its potential.  If that is the case then we should encourage prospective engineers to read English literature and not books on engineering as implied in my post entitled ‘Good reads for budding engineers‘ on February 25th, 2015.  We need engineers to stand astride the boundary between the ‘Two Cultures‘ [see post of the same title on March 5th, 2013].

For more on modern female scientists and the gender imbalance in science watch the short film from the Royal Society entitled ‘A Chemical Imbalance‘  [see my post on of the same title on October 2nd, 2013]

Sources: Steven Johnson, A glitch in time, Financial Times, 18/19 October 2014.

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