Lady Lovelace, Ada Byron, daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron, wrote a plan to use Charles Babbage's "thinking machine" to calculate Bernoulli numbers and to many she is considered to be the world's first computer programmer. Her attempts to reconcile the world of Romanticism and the world of science and machines, to create a "poetical science" helped her to produce a remarkable career in the Victorian age. This biography offers a look at her life in maths and science and analyzes the death of Romanticism and the birth of the machine age.
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Known in her day as the "Enchantress of Numbers," Ada Lovelace was one of the most fascinating women of the 19th century. She rubbed elbows with many of the brightest scientific lights of her day, including the brilliant experimentalists Michael Faraday and Andrew Crossearguably the model for Mary Shelley's Dr. Frankenstein. She was the protégé of the "Queen of Nineteenth-Century Science," Mary Sommerville. And, with mathematician Charles Babbage, inventor of the Analytical Enginethe mechanical "thinking machine" that anticipated the modern computer by more than a centuryshe developed a set of instructions for mechanically calculating Bernoulli numbers, in effect, creating the first computer program. In recognition of her accomplishment, the US Department of Defense, in 1980, named its standard programming language, "Ada," thus, nearly one hundred and thirty years after her death, granting her the immortality she so craved.
Yet, as noted British journalist Benjamin Woolley reveals in this captivating, finely-nuanced portrait of that remarkable woman, Ada was far from being the cool and dispassionate exemplar of the modern scientific spirit. Born in 1815, the product of one of the most sensational (and disastrous) marriages of the 19th centurythat between the "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" poet, Lord Byron and the celebrated intellectual reformist Annabella MilbankeAda, perhaps more than any other figure of the early Victorian period, came to embody the widening rift between the worlds of Romanticism, typified by her brilliant, sybaritic father, and of reason and technology represented by her severe mother. In The Bride of Science, Woolley vividly details how, throughout her brief life, Ada struggled to reconcile those opposites, sometimes with disastrous results. He relates how, in her efforts to appease her "wayward" passions and to satisfy an equally powerful desire to leave her stamp upon the face of science, she openly experimented with the social and sexual conventions of her day, dabbled in the "dangerous" new ideas of mesmerism, phrenology, and materialism, and, ultimately, formulated the concept of a "poetical science" with which she hoped to bridge the gap between imagination and reason.
The Bride of Science is both the story of a life lived passionately and an intriguing rumination on the death of Romanticism and the birth of the Machine Age, offering profound insights into the seemingly irreconcilable gulf between art and science that persists to this day.
"A splendid and enthralling portrait."
The Sunday Times (London)
"It's a thriller."
"Her life spanned the era that began with the Battle of Waterloo and ended with the Great Exhibitiona period of barely forty years that saw the world transformed. This was the age when social, intellectual and technological developments opened up deep fissured in culture, when romance began to split away from reason, instinct from intellect, art from science. Ada came to embody these new polarities. She struggled to reconcile them, and they tore her apart."
The Bride of Science
Benjamin Woolley is a writer and broadcaster. He has contributed to a range of BBC programs, including an edition of a Horizon on 'artificial life,' and a Bookmark on Aldous Huxley. He is a freelance contributor to a variety of newspapers and magazines, including The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent and the Times Literary Supplement. Hometown: London, UK
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Book Description McGraw-Hill Companies, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110071373292