this is the story as i believe it to be…

Born as Augusta Ada Byron and later named the Countess of Lovelace through marriage, Ada the was the daughter of a brief marriage between the Romantic poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabelle Milbanke, who separated from Byron just a month after Ada was born. Four months later, Byron left England and never returned. Ada never met her father and was raised by her mother, Lady Byron.

Lady Byron wished her daughter to be unlike her poetical father, and she saw to it that Ada received tutoring in mathematics, science and music, as disciplines to counter “poetic tendencies”. Ada’s complex mind became apparent as early as the age of 13 when she produced the design for a flying machine. It was mathematics that gave her life its wings and she submersed herself it in fully.

In the early nineteenth century there were no “professional” scientists and the participation of noblewomen in intellectual pursuits was not widely encouraged. One of the gentlemanly scientists of the era was to become Ada’s lifelong friend. Charles Babbage, professor of mathematics at Cambridge, was known as the inventor of the Difference Engine, an elaborate calculating machine that operated by the method of finite differences. Ada met Babbage in 1833, when she was just 17, and they began a voluminous correspondence on topics of primarily mathematics and logic.

Babbage had made plans in 1834 for a new kind of calculating machine (despite the Difference Engine not being finished), called the Analytical Engine and enlisted Ada’s assistance. Ada called herself his Analyst (& “Metaphysician”). She understood the plans for the device as well as Babbage but was better at articulating its promise so took notes on it for him. She rightly saw it as what we would call a general-purpose computer today.  Her notes on the Analytical Engine mentioned anticipation of future developments, including computer generated music but was scoffed at as “no such machine could possibly exist.”

Ada died of ovarian cancer in 1852, at the age of 36, and was buried beside the father she never knew. Her contributions to science were resurrected only recently, and biographies attest to the fascination of Babbage’s “Enchantress of Numbers,” Ada Lovelace, who she is now referred to as.

(proof of my adoration of math, science, a fancy-dressed ladies who share my passion for the aforementioned subjects.)

this is my piece for the artcenter gallery’s holiday show: shrines and reliquaries. opening reception will be friday, november thirteenth from 5:30 to 8, and exhibit will remain until december 24th… just in case you were interested.

PS. going to the beach for a few days.  See you soon!