The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron's Daughter

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9780071388603: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron's Daughter

Published by Macmillan in the U.K. and by us in the U.S. in hardcover to critical acclaim, The Bride of Science tells the story of Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace, the inventor of computer programming and daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron. Ada's story is that of a woman who came to embody the separation of two worlds: the world of Romanticism and the world of science and machines. Ada's efforts to reconcile these opposites - to create what she came to call a "poetical science" - produced one of the most remarkable careers of the Victorian age. In collaboration with Charles Babbage, the inventor of a clockwork "thinking machine" that predated the computer by over a century, Ada wrote a plan to use the machine for the calculation of Bernoulli numbers. This plan is now regarded as the first computer program, making Ada the world's first computer programmer. It was in her honor that, in 1980, the U.S. Department of Defense named its computer language "Ada." Ada has been iconised as a woman whose contribution to technology has been hidden. That contribution is now revealed in the first comprehensive biography of Lady Lovelace. The Bride of Science is not only a brilliant examination of an extraordinary life in math and science, it is also a fascinating analysis of the death of Romanticism and the birth of the machine age, offering devastating insight into the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between art and science, the consequences of which are still with us today.

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From the Back Cover:

Born of a sensational, tumultuous marriage, torn apart by the opposing passions of science and art, she was destined for disaster­­and immortality.

"A splendid and enthralling portrait."

­­The Sunday Times (London)

"It's a thriller."

­­New Scientist

"She had education, wealth and plenty of talent. Yet her life ended in ruin... This biography provides an intriguing glimpse into the beginnings of computer science and a reminder that character is destiny."

--The Wall Street Journal

Known in her day as the "Enchantress of Numbers," Ada Lovelace was one of the most fascinating women of the 19th century. With mathematician Charles Babbage, inventor of the Analytical Engine, she 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 130 years after her death, granting her the immortality she so craved.

Yet, as noted British journalist Benjamin Woolley reveals in this captivating, critically-acclaimed portrait, 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 Annabella Milbanke­­Ada came to embody the widening rift between the worlds of Romanticism, typified by her brilliant, sybaritic father, and of reason, represented by her severe mother. Here, Woolley vividly details how, throughout her brief life, Ada struggled to reconcile those opposites, sometimes with disastrous results. Both the story of a life lived passionately and an intriguing rumination on the death of Romanticism and the birth of the Machine Age, The Bride of Science offers profound insights into the seemingly irreconcilable gulf between art and science that persists to this day.

About the Author:

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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