Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Dangers of Poetry

I have developed a crush on Ada, Countess Lovelace (1815-1852).

This is all the doing of Ms. Sydney Padua, animator, and author of the 'Lovelace and Babbage' comics, one of which adorns this post. She is even more besotted with Ada than I am. I quote: "Is there a support group for 'Someone you love is manic-depressive, and has been dead for 150 years.'?"

Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron, the poet, who was famously described as 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know'. Fearing that the child might have inherited her father's 'wild blood', which we would now recognise as manic depression or bipolar disorder, she resolved to have Ada educated in mathematics, to save her from the dangers of poetry.

Ada became quite a gifted mathematician and is recognised as the world's first computer programmer, for the work she did on Charles Babbage's Difference Engine.

To follow the cartoon adventures of Lovelace and Babbage and fall helplessly in love (if you're mad enough) [*], visit the artist's website at 2D Goggles, and if you have a taste for outrageous Victorian science fiction, visit the Steampunk Art exhibition at the Museum of the History of Art, Oxford.

[*] Those of you who aren't the right kind of crazy to fall in love with a geeky, pipe-smoking, bi-polar English countess may swoon over the 'alpha dog' bad boy that is Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He's in the episode 'Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy'.

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