Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"The Calculus of Passion": Review of The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason,and Byron's Daughter, by Benjamin Woolley. Reviewed by Thomas A. Trainor.American Scientist, July-August 2001.

The reviewer endorses this biography as a revealing and non-sensationaltreatment of Augusta Ada Bryon King, a multi-dimensional woman of thenineteenth century and daughter of Lord Byron. The biography includes Ada's"bizarre family background", and covers her close relationships with MarySomerville ("arguably the greatest woman scientist of the age" and Ada'srole model) and Charles Babbage (professor of mathematics at the Universityof Cambridge and inventor of the "Difference Engine" and "Analytical Engine"calculating machines). "Debate continues over Ada's real contribution tothe Analytical Engine and its subsequent popularization, and to moderncomputer design and programming. Woolley leaves the question open, providinginstead a wealth of historical detail to inform our opinion."

--- Annette Emerson