March 24th was Ada Lovelace Day. According to the site, Finding Ada, Ada Lovelace was one of the world’s first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software.
Bloggers from around the world wrote about a woman in science or technology on the 24th. I had planned to be one of them but after a day at a craft show, I completely forgot. I chose Sally Prasch, scientific glassblower. I didn’t even know that such an occupation existed. Scientific glassblowers make custom glass laboratory equipment for chemists, and have their own professional American Scientific Glassblowers Society. East Carolina State has an interesting page of resources describing the work.
Sally Prasch took a flameworking class at 13 years old, and loved it, and went on to apprentice with a scientific glassblower. She went on to get a degree in Scientific Glass Technology from Salem Community College in Carney’s Point, NJ. This is the essence of Ada Lovelace day, the possibility of women discovering what they love to do, and being able to pursue it. There are only about 700 scientific glassblowers, and Prasch is among a handful of women in the field. She also creates artistic glass, bridging the worlds of science and art.