The woman largely responsible for modern computers and programming

(Photo by Donaldson Collections/Getty Images)

Where we are today with computers and technology is due to countless incremental steps, eventually leading to enormous leaps. Many of those responsible for the advancements have been left out of the vaults of history. Fortunately, Ada Lovelace wasn’t one of those people.

I first heard of Ada Lovelace while reading ‘The Innovators‘ by Walter Isaacson. I remember being intrigued by what was considered a very unorthodox life at the time, especially for a woman, and the irony that preceded her spot being solidified in history.

Ada’s father was the famous poet, Lord Byron. Lord Byron lived an untamed boisterous life. He was also a luddite, which was an anti-technology movement at the time. Ada’s mother, Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron, was a bright woman, in fact, Lord Byron was attracted to her by her intelligence. The marriage between Lord Byron and Ada’s mother was short and disastrous. Anne and Lord Byron separated soon after Ada was born on December 10, 1815. Ada never saw haw her father again.

Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron had such a dislike for Ada’s father, she wanted Ada to be nothing like him. In an attempt to steer Ada way from the arts and anything that could lead her to have the personality of her father, she immersed Ada in science and mathematics. From an early age, Ada was shown to have a talented for mathematics and science. Ada was tutored by a few high profile individuals, who included, Augustus De Morgan, the first professor of mathematics at the University of London, and Mary Somerville, a Scottish astronomer and mathematician, the first woman who was a member of the Royal Astronomical Society.

An early mentor and friend of Ada was Charles Babbage. Babbage is credited with inventing the difference engine, which solved mathematical calculations. He was also helped to create what was called the analytical machine that could solve more complex calculations than the difference machine, it is considered to be the first computer. Ada saw the analytical machine when it was in the process of being built and was extremely intrigued.

In 1843, Ada was asked to translate an article written on the analytical machine by the Italian engineer, Luigi Federico Menabrea. Ada translated the article from French to English, and added her own annotations. The notes were three times longer than the article. At this point in history, machines were envisioned and built to complete single specialized tasks — Ada was the first to envision a machine that could execute a nearly infinite amount of tasks, similarly to modern computers. In her notes she explained in detail how the analytical machine could be programmed to use numbers and symbols to write any program an engineer could imagine. Ada also was the first to describe what programmers today call “looping”, which is when a machine repeats one or multiple lines of instructions. Ada’s notes were published separately in an English journal. She published under the initials, “A.A.L.”, which stood for Augusta Ada Lovelace, most likely to hide her identity as a woman.

Many consider Ada Lovelace to be the first computer programmer. She used her passions of the arts and sciences to envision something well beyond complementary thinking. Ada’s contribution wasn’t realized until the 1950’s. B.V. Bowden republished her work for the world to see in 1953 in ‘Faster Than Thought: A Symposium on Digital Computing Machines’.

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. Visit the events page to see what’s happening in the community: Events

How Sunday Assembly hopes to help you pursue your hobbies

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh (SAPGH) launched their ‘smoup’ platform. A smoup is short for “small group”. The gathering can be one-time or something that occurs regularly. A type of smoup can range from just about any category (science, wellness, art, technology etc.).

There are a few rules. Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a 501(c)(3) community benefit organization, therefore any smoup cannot be a for-profit event. Also, no events can support any political candidates. Lastly, events must be in line with the values listed in SAPGH’s charter .

To start a smoup your are required to fill out a form and it has to be approved by the Chairperson of the Community Committee. Once a smoup has been approved, Sunday Assembly will post it on social media and our website.  Visit the Community page to get started!

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. Visit the Events page to see what’s happening in the community!

Improving the Pittsburgh community with burritos

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh will be having a fundraiser in partnership with Chipotle Mexican Grill. Join us for the second annual Burritos for Good! Just come in to the Chipotle at 4800 Baum Blvd. in Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 20th from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Show them the flyer
on your smartphone or tell the cashier you’re supporting the cause to make sure that 33% of the proceeds will be donated to Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh.

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. To find out what’s going on in the community visit the Events page.

How exactly do vaccines work?

In recent weeks there have been multiple measles outbreaks across the United States, most recently in Rockland County, New York. These outbreaks are attributed largely to the anti-vaxxer movement. Let’s take a moment to explore exactly how vaccines work.

Antigens – the uniforms

Imagine every cell in your body wears a uniform to be recognized as not a threat. The uniforms are made of unique molecules. Cells called macrophages are part of the immune system and use the uniforms to recognize whether something in the body is a threat.

Foreign invaders have a unique markers called “antigens”, which sounds the alarm for your immune system to attack. Vaccines are tailored to microbes’ individual antigens to help your body recognize them as threats.

Macrophages carry the microbes to the body’s lymph nodes and destroy the microbes deemed threats, but keep the antigens, and then add them to their “uniforms” so other cells of the immune system can recognize other microbes with the same antigens in the future.

Lymphocytes – The Armies

The body consists of two major types of lymphocytes: T cells and B cells. Let’s picture these cells as massive armies split into units.

The T cells can be offensive and defensive. The offensive T cells, or killer T cell, use chemicals to kill human cells in the body that are infected by the microbes. Killer T cells spot infected cells by recognizing the antigens we previously discussed.

The defensive T cells, also called helper T cells can be viewed as the recon units that signal to the killer T cells when to attack. Helper T cells release chemicals that mobilize killer T cells and other cells of the immune system.

To stick with the military metaphor, B cells can be viewed as the weapons manufacturers that make specific weapons for each unique antigen. The weapons produced by the B cells are called antibodies. Antibodies fight microbes by latching onto their antigens like a “jigsaw puzzle” — if their shapes match, they bind. The immune system stockpiles millions of unique antibodies to prepare for possible invaders. According to the National Health Institute, a teaspoon of blood has approximately 50 million B cells. After a B cell latches on to an antigen, it divides into large B cells and releases more antibodies to destroy the microbe.

Antibodies – the Hunters

Antibodies circulate throughout the body hunting microbes yet to infect cells. When they reach microbes, antibodies attach to the surface, which disables the microbe. Once attached to the microbe, the antibodies send a signal to other cells of the immune system to come consume and destroy the microbe. This is called the Antibody response and is what most vaccines stimulate.


The goal of the immune system is to destroy microbes at a faster rate than they can reproduce. After defeating an infection, B cells and T cells become memory cells. Memory B cells divide and produce more antibodies. Memory T cells divide and grow into large armies. If the same microbes invade the body, the immune system is able to recolonize and destroy them more quickly.

Vaccines are weakened versions of microbes. When vaccines are injected into the body, your immune system reacts and it produces memory cells to prepare it for future invasions.

Find more information on the CDC website

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. Visit the events page to see what’s happening in the community: Events

Sunday Assembly After Dark returns for non-morning people

The regular Assembly is held every third Sunday of the month at 10:00 AM, but not everyone in the community are morning people. Sunday Assembly Assembly After Dark is back for those non-morning people.

The Sunday Assembly community will be gathering for a series of events monthly. According to the event: “After dark “OUT” is an adult only outing sponsored by Sunday Assembly. We will hit various pubs and events around Pittsburgh! “

To find out more information visit our events page:!

Sunday Assembly community to gather for yoga

Sunday Assembly will be gather for yoga classes being held at Community Forge on April 13th, 2019 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm. This will be an Opportunity to foster both community and well-being.

The class will be FREE and or all-levels — everyone is invited. BYO-mat, if you have an extra mat to share, bring that as well.

“Donations to help offset cost are gladly accepted but not at all required. Our instructor Cassie aspires to bring expressive movement to the lives of others through vinyasa yoga, slackline yoga, and other creative movement practices. She practices and teaches each of these modalities as an art to inspire and create ease in body, mind, and spirit. Cassie hopes to create a lighthearted environment that encourages playfulness and explorative boundary-pushing for students of all levels. “

Sunday Assembly is a secular community that celebrates life. Visit our events page to see what’s happening in the community: Events

The group fostering community among Pittsburgh’s nonreligious

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh’s Yule Rock Event

I grew up going to church with my mother every Sunday. As I got older, I eventually became nonreligious and embraced humanist values. After I left the church, there was a void left once filled by the church community — I still wanted to be apart of a collective group aligned with my current values who aimed to do good in the world. In 2014, I found Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh and became involved immediately. Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh describes itself as a “secular community that celebrates life”. There are multiple events throughout the month ranging from book clubs to support groups, and there’s a main event (the Assembly) every third Sunday of the month.

Throughout the world, community is largely built around religion, so the concept of being nonreligious (atheist, agnostic, etc.) and gathering to do good is foreign to many . Below are some frequently asked questions about Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh.


Sunday Assembly is a secular community without a deity, however, it is not anti-religion. Although we don’t have a doctrine, the values of humanism, science, and reason are often promoted at our events. Please refer to the charter for more information


We have the main event (the Assembly) every third Sunday of the month where we sing popular songs, talk about science and the theme of the month, and other activities to build community. Sunday Assembly has been described as a “TED Talk with karaoke”.


The Assembly is a kid-friendly event. There are many other events, as it strives to meet the needs of everyone in the community  – some events are family oriented and some events focus more on adults (e.g. Book Club). See the events page to see what we’re up to: Events


Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a 501(c)(3) community benefit organization and is proudly 100% community funded — it runs on all small donations.

Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh is a secular community that celebrates life. View our events on the Events page.