Ada Lovelace – BBC Radio 4 In Our Time

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the 19th century mathematician Ada Lovelace.

“Ada Lovelace has been called many things – the first computer programmer and a prophet of the computer age – but most poetically perhaps by Babbage himself as an ‘enchantress of numbers’.”


China and the Development of Science – Radio 4 In Our Time

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Needham Question; why Europe and not China developed modern technology.

“What do these things have in common? Fireworks, wood-block printing, canal lock-gates, kites, the wheelbarrow, chain suspension bridges and the magnetic compass. The answer is that they were all invented in China, a country that, right through the Middle Ages, maintained a cultural and technological sophistication that made foreign dignitaries flock to its imperial courts for trade and favour. But then, around 1700, the flow of ingenuity began to dry up and even reverse as Europe bore the fruits of the scientific revolution back across the globe. Why did Modern Science develop in Europe when China seemed so much better placed to achieve it? This is called the Needham Question, after Joseph Needham, the 20th century British Sinologist who did more, perhaps, than anyone else to try and explain it.”

“We do mathematics for understanding, not just truth.”

Thinking about How and Why We Prove – blog by Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American.

Michael Shulman’s talk “answered one of the questions Hales posed: why don’t more mathematicians use proof assistants? Beyond the fact that proof assistants are currently too unwieldy for many of us, Shulman’s answer was that we do mathematics for understanding, not just truth.”