Friday, July 13, 2012

Enchantress of Numbers

I love being inspired, don't you?  If you've been following Tansy Dolls, you know that we are going to be creating some very special dolls in the near future for Toward the Stars.  Its an exciting time for us.  After asking for feedback on what folks would like to see, we collected a fabulous list of possibilities.  Originally we thought we'd like to create scientist and explorer dolls.  They are still on the list, but after doing some research, I stumbled upon Lady Ada Byron Lovelace.  And I couldn't get her out of my head.

Lady Lovelace was a mathematician.  She was also the daughter of Anne Isabella Milbanke and Lord Byron.  Yes, you read that right.  The poet Lord Byron was her father, but her parents separated when she was a just an infant and she was raised solely by her mother. Fearful that Ada would take after her father's intensity and dark moods, Anne had her schooled in the sciences and mathematics and attempted to squash any literary tendencies.  Ada would later ask her mother, " if you can't give me poetry, can't you give me poetical science?"    

When she was just 17 years old, she met Charles Babbage, a professor of mathematics at Cambridge.  They became close friends and exchanged frequent letters on all manners of subjects, but especially mathematics. Her writing on Babbage's analytical machine, specifically her notes, would later be considered the first computer program. While many mathematicians, Babbage included, focused solely on the number crunching capabilities of the analytical machine, Ada envisioned and articulated so much more. For example, she anticipated future developments such as computer-generated music.  

Phew!  How is that for a history lesson?  I stumbled upon this quote from Ada that I think  we should all take to heart.  "No one knows what power lies yet undeveloped in that wiry system of mine."  She clearly recognized the potential that lay within herself.  And while society may have preferred she abandon the mathematics and her mother may have preferred she abandon the poetry, it was BOTH her mathematical genius and her imagination that led her to not only write the first computer program but also envision the computer age well before it would happen.

Let's take a page from Ada and recognize, encourage, and support the potential within ourselves, our children, and others.

If you'd like to learn more about Ada, I've collected a few sites for you to check out.

I'll leave you with this fabulous concept drawing of our mathematician doll by Lesley.  Its inspired by Lady Ada Byron Lovelace of course.  Follow us on Twitter or our FB page (both links are located in the tabs at the top of the page) to see sneak peeks as we bring this concept drawing to life.


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