Webcomic: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

Computer science actually is this cool.

It doesn't fight crime, it PRINTS LARGE TABLES OF NUMBERS!!

In Real Life, Charles Babbage was an eccentric genius who designed the world's first computers while Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was a mathematician who wrote the first computer programs before any computers were actually built. Sadly, Babbage's computers were never built and Lovelace died when she was 36.

As it turns out, Real Life sucks, so what actually happened was that Babbage and Lovelace built a Difference Engine that takes up an entire building and use it to fight crime. That is, if you define crime as street music and poetry.

The comic (found here) is written by Sydney Padua, who wrote the first installment in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage provides examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Babbage.
  • Absurdly Spacious Hardware: The Difference Engine is so large that debugging code requires crawling inside of it.
  • Adorkable: Babbage, Babbage, Babbage.
  • Art Evolution: To some extent. While the entire comic has been good quality since it started (Padua is an animator after all), the first episode, "The Origin" was neatened up for a magazine publication. This had led to some changes in dialogue, though.
  • Badass: Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who also has a Sweet Hat.
  • Badass Bookworm: And some of it is even true!
  • Berserk Button: Don't remind Ada that she's Lord Byron's daughter. Except maybe on Tuesdays.
    • Don't be a street musician within earshot of Babbage.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Babbage and Lovelace's ideas of what is objectionable are unorthodox at best.
  • Buffy Speak:
    Brunel: I'd be able to build gigantic iron ships, certainly–but could they FLY?
    Ada: It would indeed be difficult...
    Brunel: Would Darwin be able to mess around with his..uh, barnacles he won't talk about?
    Ada: Um, that one I'm not sure about...
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Babbage gets a downright alarming one at the beginning of The Organist.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Charles Babbage has a tendency to be distracted from pressing issues by relative minutia
  • Curse Cut Short:
    Babbage: I believe I may perceive some sort of mathematical pattern...
    Ada: No sh–
  • Distinguished Gentlewoman's Pipe: Lovelace.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: An out-of-universe example with 'sterling engine'.
  • Drunk on Milk: Ada falls Off the Wagon and goes all out on poetry when she and Babbage split.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The Organist.
  • Face Palm: Ada gets one when Babbage starts in on The Cheese Story.
  • Fanservice: Well, footmen were selected for their fine physiques, so the shirtless minion drawings are not prurient interest, but historical, of course!
  • The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles: As expected from a Steampunk work.
  • For Science!: Obviously. Invoked often enough by many a British scientist.
  • In the Blood: Ada Lovelace is taught mathematics to quell the poetical tendencies she inherited from her father, Lord Byron. She succumbs to poetry after she separates from Babbage during his crusade against street musicians.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: As expected from a Steampunk work.
  • Large Ham" everyone gets a turn being the hammiest of hammy, although Babbage probably is the hammiest one overall.
  • Loveable Rogue: Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Being the Engineer - and Friendly Enemy - to Babbage and Lovelace.
    • In two of the tales, it's up to Brunel to fix what's gone wrong.
  • Mad Scientist: Babbage isn't mad (well, except when it comes to street musicians )... just not very well organized.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Organist bears a strange, yet totally coincidental resemblance to Mr. Bruce of ''The Correspondents."
  • Percussive Maintenance: Loads, even quoted verbatim in one introduction splash.
  • Serious Business: MATHEMATICS!!!
    • Whenever Lovelace gets into one of her moods, she's seen mulling over the paradoxical P=NP equation. And firing bullets into the wall while mulling it.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: "Astounding!! In enabling mechanism to combine general symbols in successions of variety and extent, a uniting link is established between the operations of matter and the abstract mental processes of the most abstract branch of mathematical science! A new, vast and powerful language is developed for the future of analysis, in which to wield its truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical application for the purposes of mankind than the means hitherto in our investigation have rendered possible!"
  • Shout-Out: Several, most notably to Lewis Carroll (and Martin Gardner) in The Organist.
  • Shown Their Work: Notes after each comic reveal the sources of historical and mathematical in-jokes and too-good-to-be-true-but-actually-are stories of Babbage's and Lovelace's life.
  • Stealth Insult: Well, she is the daughter of Lord Byron.
    Ada: I surmise it contains a small difference engine to analyze the acoustic wave patterns...
    Babbage: Exactly! It's operated by a crank!
    Ada: Indeed.
  • Stealth Pun: The Coniform Collector of Tympanic Violations.
  • Steam Punk: The Difference Engine is a giant clockwork. Their economy modeler runs on steam. Babbage's Harmonic Disruptor operates on punch cards. And on and on ...
    • The alternate history suggests that with the aid of the Difference Engine England is able to defeat the Martian horde...
    • To an extent, this is subverted. Padua has observed that the whole point of Steampunk is the awesome clothes....but the specific decade in which the comic is set was a decade of hideous fashion, and Lovelace and Babbage were probably two of the worst-dressed people in it.
  • Suckiness Is Painful: The Organist.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: Ada has diagrams to show Your Brain on Poetry.
  • Unsound Effect: Loads. The best is "RE-BOOT!", the first reboot of a computer ever...of course done with a kick.

Alternative Title(s):

The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace And Babbage