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

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9780330484497: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter
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Romantic heroine and computer pioneer: the remarkable story of Lord Byron's daughter. Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron was born in 1815 just after the Battle of Waterloo, and died aged 36, soon after the Great Exhibition of 1851. She was connected with some of the most influential and colourful characters of the age: Charles Dickens, Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin and Charles Babbage. It was her work with Babbage that led to her being credited with the invention of computer programming and to her name being adopted for the programming language that controls the US military machine. However, what makes her story so fascinating is the way she personified the seismic historical changes taking place. This was the era when fissures began to open up in culture: romance split away from reason, instinct from intellect, art from science. Ada came to embody these new polarities. 'Woolley has a great story to tell and does it with racy vigour' - Maggie Gee, Daily Telegraph 'A splendid and enthralling portrait' - Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times 'An amazing story' - Ruth Padel, The Independent 'An entertaining and thoughtful biography' - The Guardian

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From the Back Cover:

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."
­­New Scientist

"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

About the Author:

Benjamin Woolley is a writer and broadcaster who has contributed to numerous BBC programs, including a Horizon on artificial life and a Bookmark on Aldous Huxley. His articles have appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, and the Times Literary Supplement. His first book, Virtual Worlds, examined the cultural impact of computer simulation and virtual reality.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780071373296: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron's Daughter

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ISBN 10:  0071373292 ISBN 13:  9780071373296
Publisher: McGraw-Hill, 2000
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9781447272540: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter

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9780333724361: 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

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9780333724378: Bride of Science

Macmillan, 2001
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