Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Which women in STEM inspire you? Tell me in the comments!
Ada Lovelace Day celebrates the achievements and ingenuity of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Every year on the second Tuesday of October, events are held all over the world to highlight these inspirational and often unsung figures.
Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was a Victorian age mathematician who worked with Charles Babbage on the Analytical Engine — a giant clockwork computer that never quite came into existence. At the time, it was very difficult for women to have their scientific work published. However, in 1842 Ada translated an article describing the Analytical Engine from Italian into English, and added her own comments in the footnotes. She added so much extra information that it more than tripled the length of the original article.
In her notes, Ada introduced ideas for intricate programs that could be run on the Analytical Engine, for which she is often recognised as the first computer programmer. Ada saw a potential for the machine beyond basic calculations, and proposed that it could be used to process visual symbols and to make music.
Ada passed away from cancer at the age of 36, and for many years her work remained mostly unrecognised. However, in the 1940s, Ada’s notes became an important source of inspiration for Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer.
Ada’s creativity, vision and passion for mathematics and technology in the face of adversity makes her an amazing icon for women in STEM. To find out more about her, I highly recommend Sydney Padua’s fantastic graphic novel “The thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage”.