Ada, Countess of Lovelace turned 200 on Monday, and someone has come up with the perfect way to celebrate her: a Lego kit.
Obviously, Lego kits should be used to celebrate everyone and everything that ever happens (including this set of kickass science women), but Ada, in particular, is an excellent choice. The only legitimate child of Lord Byron – of the dissolute poet Byrons – Ada grew up to write the world’s first computer program: an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine.
While working with fellow mathematician Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine, Ada wrote an elaborate series of notes, including a method by which the machine could calculate Bernoulli Numbers – making her the first computer programmer ever. Unsurprisingly, boring people often try to diminish her achievements by attributing them to Babbage or pointing out that her code was never run (because Babbage never actually built the Analytical Engine) – but it’s since been established that her code would have worked as written. Take that, haters.
Today, STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Maths) subjects suffer from some depressingly wide gender gaps, and there’s considerable debate over how to remedy that. But it’s possible that one of the reasons for it is simple visibility. The less we see of women working in tech, the less likely we are to believe that they do, can, or should. That’s especially important for children, who start thinking surprisingly early about what kinds of jobs they might do when they’re older. Knowing about role models like them, and what they achieved, is essential to creating the next generation of Adas.
And given the scarcity of women in current Lego merchandise (count the Avengers sets that include Black Widow, go on, do it) having one built for a badass nerd like Ada would be incredible.
Designed by Stewart Lamb Cromer, the kit is currently looking for votes on Lego Ideas. It needs 10,000 votes to be considered for production, and it has just over a year to get them. While Lego Ideas generates some excellent products (there’s a Wall-E sitting on my bookshelf as we speak) it sometimes hits a dud (a word which here means, a Big Bang Theory set).
Ada here represents the best examples of crowdsourced ideas: original, stylish (look at it, all sleek and monochrome), and with something genuine to say. It can even serve as a case for a Raspberry Pi which makes it a real, working computer. We are crossing all our fingers that this one gets picked up, so that on Ada’s 201st birthday, we can build her computer.
And if you’re looking for something to submit to Lego Ideas, we’d really like a Hedy Lamarr kit too.
Main image: Lego Ideas