Tag Archives: Charles Babbage

Science for the People: Lovelace & Babbage

sftpThis week we’re learning about a pair of 19th-century geniuses, and the friendship that gave rise to the era of modern computers. We’ll speak to artist and animator Sydney Padua about her graphic novel The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer. We’ll also talk to Suw Charman-Anderson, founder of Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Don’t forget to support the Science for the People Patreon Campaign to keep the sciencey goodness flowing toward your ear holes.

*Josh provides research help to Science for the People and is, therefore, completely biased.

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The Proto-Trolling of Charles Babbage

No one, not even his closest friends, would deny that Charles Babbage was a first rate pedant. In 1842, Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote a poem entitled “The Vision of Sin”, which included the following verse:

Fill the cup, and fill the can:
Have a rouse before the morn:
Every moment dies a man,
Every moment one is born.

Good stuff that. I feel all inspired to fill life up with joy, because it is fleeting and meaningless. The “carpe-est” of “diems”, if you will*. I am so moved that the editor in me is not even bothered in the slightest** about the unorthodox punctuation choices.

Charles Babbage is a better pedant than I. He wrote a letter to the poet:

In your otherwise beautiful poem, one verse reads, “Every minute dies a man, Every minute one is born”; I need hardly point out to you that this calculation would tend ot keep the sum total of the world’s population in a state of perpetual equipoise, whereas it is a well-known fact that the said sum totatl is constantly on the increase. I would therefore take the liberty of suggesting that in the next edition of your excellent poem the erroneous calculation to which I refer should be corrected as follows: “Every moment*** dies a man, And one and a sixteenth is born.”

Babbage trolled Tennyson. Babbage trolled Tennyson hard.

*Please don’t.

**Botheration is stastically indistinguishable from “not bothered in the slightest”, primarily due to large sample variance.

***Apparently, the original version used “minute” which Tennyson later changed to “moment”.

SOURCE: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage by Sydney Padua , which you go and buy now. In fact, I ‘ve already judged you more than a little if you have already bought the book, read it, and been completely familiar with this story, because you read the end notes like a true scholar.

The Analytical Engine, Plan 25

"The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage" by Sydney PaduaMy copy of Sydney Padua’s The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage is supposed to arrive next week (21 April 2015). I’m a little excited. As regular patrons of The Finch & Pea know, I’m just a little bit of a fan of her work*.

Until then (or until the copy you just ordered arrives), you contemplate the complexity and beauty of the completed analytical engine (if only in Padua’s imagination) at The Guardian.  You can also read about the development of the illustration and the choice of color palette at Padua’s own site.

*Mutual appreciation society

The Lovelace & Babbage Countdown Begins

"The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage" by Sydney Padua (All Rights Reserved; Adapted with Permission)

“The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage” by Sydney Padua (All Rights Reserved; Adapted with Permission)

If you were the NSA and “asked” Amazon.com for my order history, you would discover that I almost never pre-order anything. I am not an early adopter. I like to let other people sort out the bugs and kinks before wading in.

I said “almost never” for a reason. The exception is Sydney Padua’s new book, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage, which is scheduled for release in April 2015. The book is based on the adventures of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage as described in the webcomic of the same name at 2D Goggles.

Why pre-order? Well, one, won’t you feel stupid if they run out? You will. Two, pre-orders can help those “bestseller” list numbers, depending on the list and how they tally things up. Robust pre-order numbers certainly are good for the author’s fragile psyche. Three, you will probably forget you ordered it by April. So, when it arrives, it will be like Christmas in April – four months late or eight months early, depending on the kind of person you are.

Go. Now. Don’t make me judge you.

The Publishing Engine

Am I unreasonably excited that my favorite webcomic, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, is going to be published as a book? No. For those of you familiar with the funny, hyper-referential, quirky work of Sydney Padua, my excitement would be considered entirely reasonable in its grandiosity.

Now it my great pleasure to announce that this humble comic has been elevated to the PANTHEON one might say, actually, one would definitely say, because Pantheon Bookshas heard your pleas (a lot more effectively than I have it seems) and we are going to do Lovelace and Babbage: The Papery Thing with Ink On!

If you were wondering what to get me for my birthday next year. . .