Ada Augusta Lovelace (1815-1852)
|Said to be the first computer programmer, Ada, Countess Lovelace was born Ada Augusta Byron, daughter of the infamous Lord Byron. Shortly after the child's birth, Lady Byron left her husband - probably rather wisely - and attempted to keep her daughter from getting mixed up in poetry (although some might have blamed the drugs rather than the poems). She seems to have had limited success here, since despite a strictly scientific education, Ada is said to have demanded of her mother 'poetic science' (which is one of the main reasons for her inclusion here).|
|In later life she worked - or at least corresponded - with
Charles Babbage regarding the concept of the Analytical Engine, and planned a series of
instructions to direct such an engine to calculate Bernoulli numbers - the first known
computer programme. She also wrote some of the earliest works on the philosophy of
computing, including her famous statement that the analytical engine originated nothing,
but could do 'anything we know how to direct it to do'.
She died - as did her father - at the age of 36, and has a computer programming language named after her.
Hypatia of Alexandria (d. 415)
|I can't swear that this is actually an image of Hypatia of Alexandria, but it has been used as such elsewhere and thus I appropriate it. Hypatia is an anti-Martyr, who died of being insufficiently Christian at a time when such an affliction was becoming increasingly perilous. She was also however a scholar and scientist of note, unlike many Christian female martyrs, whose greatest contribution to the world often seems to have been a valiant bid to win a nomination for the early Darwin awards.|
|According to the Suda, a Byzantine encyclopaedia, Hypatia was the daughter of the last curator of the Museum of Alexandria. An astronomer, mathematician and philosopher, she was far from the Christian ideal of womanhood, which at the time basically involved being quiet. Blamed - probably erroneously and quite possibly on the usual grounds of sorcery - for friction between Bishop Cyril and the prefect Orestes of Alexandria, Hypatia made a useful and fairly apolitical target for Christian charity and forgiveness. She was beaten up in the street, dragged into a church, mutilated with broken tiles and finally burned (although the last was almost certainly posthumous) by a pack of rampaging monks set on spreading a little of Christ's love.|
Colin, Lord Renfrew (1937- )
|One of the founding fathers of modern archaeology, Professor Colin, Lord Renfrew is a highly distinguished academic. I studied Archaeology at Cambridge, and was lucky enough to hear Professor Renfrew lecture, and while his areas of study differed from my interests, he was always fairly entertaining. He would often cancel early morning lectures without notice to go and run the country (or at least attend sessions of the House of Lords), which did little to endear him to tired and ill-tempered students at 9am, but he was a character, regardless of his rabid conservatism..|
|He wrote the book on archaeology; literally. Renfrew and
Bahn's Archaeology: Theory, Method and Practice is the standard text book in British
archaeology, and very useful I found it for blagging my way through essays when the MPhils
had swiped all the other books from the library. For all of his undoubted greatness
however, I include Lord Renfrew for two other reasons, both relating to possibly
Firstly, he is in full Andrew Colin, Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorne FBA. Kaimsthorn, I am told, does not exist, but is merely a name invented to give Him somewhere to be Lord Renfrew of, and thus to distinguish him from some other Lord Renfrew. Secondly, he is said to have been politely asked to resign his post as Master of Jesus College after he caused considerable damage by dancing on the tables at the Master's Feast; at the age of sixty-five.
|Let's face it. I work in the Computer Learning Research Centre; Turing was going to intrude upon my consciousness at some point. It isn't for his contributions to computer science, nor his cryptoanalytical work during WWII that I include him however, impressive though his achievements were. Instead, he finds his way into this list for writing a scientific article in which - in sincerity or sarcasm - he suggests the use of a telepathy-proof room as part of an experimental set-up. Kudos to that man.|