Ada Lovelace Day 2010 – Part 1

As @FindingAda just pointed out on Twitter, it’s not midnight in the middle of the Pacific yet, and thus it’s still Ada Lovelace Day 2010. So here’s my 2 Eurocents.
I was originally going to interview my mother for this (she is a chemist by education and worked as a research chemist for many years before other developments in her life made her change career). But when I phoned her last night she was in no mood to be interviewed and I was stuck without a subject. (My Mum’s now been given a year’s notice to prepare herself for she shall be blogged about next Ada Lovelace Day.)
And then someone posted something on a discussion forum in a completely unrelated topic that made me thing. And thus I present to you my ALD10 heroine: Eve. Yes, that’s as in Adam and…
(Caveat: I’m an atheist, I speak of Eve purely as a metaphor.)
Quick recap: God creates Adam, and from his rib he makes Eve (#include legends_and_apocrypha_about_previous_incarnations_such_as_Lilith.h). Adam and Eve are given the run of the Garden of Eden provided they don’t eat the fruit of two trees: the tree of knowledge, and the tree of life – because should they eat both they would know good from evil and live forever, thus becoming like god.
Eve meets the snake and the snake starts asking some questions. And instead of doing what good, god-fearing people tend to do which is say “Oh, god told me not to, I’d better not question this”, Eve goes along with the questioning and ends up doing the first scientific experiment: “What happens if I eat this apple?”
What happens are a number of things: Adam and Eve get kicked out of the garden of Eden (bad), but they now know good from evil, and they – and their children, and their children’s children – will never stop asking questions. They will try to build the Tower of Babel looking for god (an ancient equivalent of the LHC perhaps, looking for the “god particle”?), and much, much later, they will create a scientific method based on observation, experimentation and questioning of accepted wisdom. “I was told not to eat this apple. I wonder what happens if I do eat it. Oh look, there’s an entire world beyond this walled garden!” turns into “I was told everything’s made out of earth, water, fire and air. I wonder why there seem to be different kinds of air. Oh look, I’ve made the first step towards discovering modern chemistry!”
For me the story of Adam and Eve never really made sense. It always reflected rather poorly on god for wanting to keep us in the dark and on Adam for just accepting received wisdom. And thus I claim that – metaphorically at least – Eve was the first scientist, and all those others follow in her footsteps.)

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