Ada Lovelace, the child of Lord Byron, was a woman of contrasts; she believed that intuition and imagination should be part of a scientist’s skill set. This may be due to the shameful way her father treated her and her mother, abandoning them while Ada was a mere child. It motivated her mother bring Ada up with an education based in maths and science, rather than literature, art and poetry. Her tutor, and later her friend, was Mary Somerville, another famous scientist and polymath. Ada Lovelace is often considered the first computer programmer, thanks to her association with Charles Babbage and his invention, Analytical Engine. She died young from uterine cancer, which I consider a tragic loss to the world of Science.
One of the highlights of my life was seeing pieces of one of Babbage’s invention in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney Australia. How I longed to be able to reach through the glass and stroke them!
As you can see, I am a fan of both Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. Ada appears frequently in Steampunk stories, because of her interesting background, and because she is one of the rare women in the 19th century that was recognised as a mathematician. My favourite is her starring role in the 2D Goggles comic at http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/