Monday, June 04, 2018

Ada and the Calculating Engine: Ada Lovelace (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vogare

If you are reading this, thank Ada Lovelace.

Ada was a fashionable Victorian lady of considerable beauty and charm. But despite the lack of regard for women's intellect in her own time, Lovelace wrote the first computer program, making online publication possible.

The daughter of England's famous playboy poet, Lord Byron, Ada likely inherited imagination and creativity from her father, but she saw little of him. From her mother she inherited an aptitude and fondness for mathematics, and as a child she dreamed of inventing things that did not yet exist--flying machines and giant traveling balloons, and all sorts of mechanical inventions.

But at the age of seventeen, she chanced to meet Charles Babbage, a mathematics professor at Cambridge University, whose interests spanned astronomy, mathematics, and engineering. The Victorian Age was the era of great engines, steam engines which powered ships, trains, spinning and weaving machines, engines that made and moved things. But Babbage sought to create an engine to handle data, to make calculations faster than any mathematician could do with his pen. And when he and Ada Lovelace worked together, Ada provided the invented language, the actual programming code which enabled Babbage's Engine to run itself, turning out calculations at an unimaginable rate for the nineteenth century.

In their collaborations, Lovelace and Babbage provided the basis for all our electronic "calculating engines" since--our computers, cell phones, and many other devices.

Isabel Sanchez Vegara's Ada Lovelace (Little People, Big Dreams) (Lincoln Books, 2018 Am. ed.) provides an easy reading introduction to the essential work of Ada Lovelace, the lonely little girl who imagined inventing great things, and although she didn't see them come to full fruit in her short lifetime, her ideas succeeded far beyond her own fantasies. Vegara describes the challenges of Ada's young life, sent off to live with her staid grandmother while her adventurous parents were away following their own interests, and suffering an illness that kept her in bed for her early teen years. But despite the seclusion and the prejudices against women in science of her time, Lovelace followed her vision of things others didn't yet dream of and made her mark on the modern world.

With the charming child-friendly illustrations of Zafouko Yamamoto and an informational timeline of Lovelace's life, Vegara gives young readers an introduction to a little-known but significant woman scientist of her time and our own.

Says School Library Journal, "Informative text, smartly illustrated!"

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home