The Copenhagen Interpretation, Part One!

It has been observed in a vacuum, that comics spontaneously and randomly disappear, and then equally inexplicably reappear. Please enjoy the following fluctuation.

Ladies and gentlemen,the graphical web post you are about to read was not photographed in a studio.



There are 8,674,256 stories in the naked city now, and this hasn’t even been one of them! Part two of three? Probably? Don’t believe it until you see it!


Hey remember when this comic had NOTES all over the bottom half? Do you feel young again?

— The population of the naked city in 1851 from here (is Lovelace and Babbage’s jurisdiction inner London or greater London? I’m using greater London.. more London, more naked stories). The population of the city had an annual growth rate of 1.9% on average over the century.

— Babbage gives the rate of increase of humanity in general as a positively explosive 6.7% a minute in his justly famous correction to Tennyson:

“In your otherwise beautiful poem one verse reads,

“Every minute dies a man, Every minute one is born;”

I need hardly point out to you that this calculation would tend to keep the sum total of the world’s population in a state of perpetual equipoise, whereas it is a well-known fact that the said sum total is constantly on the increase. I would therefore take the liberty of suggesting that in the next edition of your excellent poem the erroneous calculation to which I refer should be corrected as follows: “Every moment dies a man, And one and a sixteenth is born.” I may add that the exact figures are 1.067, but something must, of course, be conceded to the laws of metre.

(at some point I will make it a mission to discover if this is an actual letter- transcriptions of it differ distressingly on small details. The furthest back I can trace it, at least without having to get up from the couch, is a footnote in an 1910 edition of Tennyson’s poems).

— Babbage of course was a founder of the statistical society and a maniacal keeper of statistics of all kinds. Including of course CRIME! He is the ’eminent statistician’ here:

— the demographics of the average criminal was the work of the french mathematician Adolphe Quetelet, with whom Babbage had a mutual admiration society. You can read all about him in Tales of Statisticians, including his theory of the “normal man”. His 1842 crime statistics are fascinating and can be read here in A Treatise on Man.

— Babbage the determinist was a common Victorian trope, there’s even a bit poetry about it:

This is on account of his spectacularly weird and brilliant Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, from which some of his dialogue above is taken. You can enjoy the whole thing here, or better still read the reviews— even the Babbage-boosters at Mechanics Magazine sum it up with: “Some chapters have no end; many more have no beginning; one at least may be fairly said to have neither beginning, middle, nor end.”

— Victorian police were commonly known as “Peelers”, being founded by Prime Minister Robert Peel; as Lovelace and Babbage were installed by Wellington they are respectfully known as “Wellies”

— my amazing comics working method:



— This comic was drawn because I’m not supposed to be drawing Lovelace and Babbage comics right now, which appears to be the optimal frame of mind for drawing Lovelace and Babbage comics.


  1. Carolyn on December 14, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Ha that is genius–particularly loved the cape. I will add some trivia about that census. Occupational statistics are sliced and diced in any number of ways, including gender; the listing of numbers of women in various occupational categories starts with ‘Queen: 1’.

  2. Stephen John Smoogen on November 28, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Thank you so much for your comics. My wife was wondering why I was laughing so hard this weekend as I read your book for my birthday. While I have read the online comic for years, reading it in paper with footnotes to footnotes to footnotes had me in stitches all over again. Thank you again

  3. Galle on November 28, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    I have no idea if you’re familiar with Fallen London or not, but I just completed their latest Exceptional Story, the Persona Engine (, and thought you might be interested to know that Babbage makes an appearance! Admittedly, he’s had to resort to some rather underhanded methods to finally get the Difference Engine funded, so it’s an antagonistic appearance, but still.

  4. elkern on November 18, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Belated thanks, Sydney! Sitting here in the USA, this is a very welcome distraction. OTOH, I’ve heard that police forces are leaning toward using Big Data to reduce crime. I assume that our “Homeland Security” (pah) bureaucrats are already using something like this. As a professional bit-pusher, I would never trust computers to predict the actions of specific humans. “The Minority Report” (Tom Cruise movie) is way too possible.

    OTOH, locking up all males between 16-24 (see Babbage, above) might not be such a bad idea.

    Read today that the software package that misled Hillary Clinton’s campaign into thinking that they had comfortable leads in key states is/was named “ADA” (“ada”? “Ada”? not sure). Can we sue the company which wrote the package for Defamation of [Lady Lovelace’s] Character?

  5. Counterclockwise on November 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    The wheels do turn in symmetric opposition,
    Can we foretell, that which was foretold?
    Or as Heisenberg, are we so uncertain?
    That observation will change the very outcome?
    The facts of of life are laughter and derision,
    I laugh and you question my decision,
    When you laugh, all I know is derision,
    And in science, you call this precision?
    Time is not a wheel that is turning,
    It’s a symmetric, reflective, observation,
    I see you moving slow, when I’m moving fast,
    But it does not matter which one of us is moving!
    For you too shall see me moving slow,
    Because to you, for to you, I am the one whose moving.
    And therein lies the subtlety of the matter,
    We are Twins, and that, is our Paradox.

  6. Hart Kornell on November 11, 2016 at 3:36 am

    The Countess (an excellent noble rank for a mathematician) of Lovelace’s hands in the last panel would, in normal life, cause me to fall in love with her. (If my normal life included being inside an atmospheric and pregnant-with-meaning comic strip.) What if the crime is also not a crime, e.g., preventing his brother from spending their mother’s money? But what if the aspect that is not a crime is a crime (she gave it to him)? But then also not a crime? (She was hallucinating from her paregoric at the time.) To wit, what if crime-fighting is recursive? Will we find the thrilling episode two inside episode one? Will Lovelace suddenly develop a lisp? We eagerly await.

  7. John Spencer on November 10, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Dear, esteemed, Author
    I have carefully observed, nay, measured the above comic (Part One) and note the mention of Parts Two and Three. I do hope that this will cause the Comic Wave Function to collapse into definite Parts Two and Three in the very near future. Of course I do realize that the Equation of Time must feature somewhere in the business but nevertheless wait in eager anticipation.
    Comics and Footnotes, what a delight!

  8. Joe Green on November 6, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Gordon’s, er sorry I mean Sydney’s, alive! (Or, cat-like, is she? Well, yes, having been observed, at least indirectly.) Thank the stars.

    “… seize the opportutunity for a pipe”. I join WOL in compulsive proof-reading and wonder if perhaps you sneak these errata in deliberately, just to keep us on our toes.

    Welcome back, however briefly.

  9. Marcelo Duarte Ferrari on November 1, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    OMG You’re back! THank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. Peter Hill on October 30, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Delighted to see the new adventure, these should be required reading for GCSE maths, physics & art syllabus.

  11. Bruce on October 30, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Congratulations on another rousing success – an intrepid Lovelace and Babbage adventure! Cannot wait to see the rest – and to read the footnotes! I truly don’t know which I enjoy more!

  12. WOL on October 30, 2016 at 1:45 am

    Lovelace’s balloon in the second to last panel has “may have” twice. Yes, I am a compulsive proofreader.
    Other than that, purely golden.
    I wear my Ada Lovelace tee shirt with pride . . . and jeans.

  13. Matthew Reeves on October 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    15 occurrences of breaking by gas?

    I’m confused. Is that something like “building exploded due to gas leak”?

  14. Joanne Petersen on October 29, 2016 at 12:31 am

    SOOOOO happy to see a new Lovelace & Babbage!! Need more!!! :-)

  15. John Yeager on October 28, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Not to be ungrateful, as a new adventure is always welcome, and end-notes are wonderful. However, Babbage is not proposing a growth rate of 6.7% per minute since he’s only adding one person every sixteen minutes. Instead this is 6.7% higher birthrate than death rate. So if some fraction R of the population dies this year, the population grows by 0.067R. So it’s not a growth of 6.7% per minute, or even 6.7% per year but 6.7% of the death rate.

  16. Vincent Danks on October 28, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Hurray! New Lovelace and Babbage … thank you…

  17. Corey on October 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    I have so many thoughts about that list of window-breaking causes. London rioters do not appear particularly riotous, when they’re being so handily out-performed by livestock, drunks and cleaning professionals.

    Thanks for the new comic! So thrilled!

  18. Dvon on October 28, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Now I don’t know whether to plaintively entreat further heavily-researched graphic depictions of our delightful duo to assure your continued gainful employment at the cost of our momentary amusement, or demand you return to your profitable duties forthwith, thus ensuring a second book from the soon-to-be-starving artist.

    Hmmm… did Babbage calculate the optimal number of tomes needed to assure an increase in value following the author’s demise? (Sorry; leakage from the upcoming Day of the Dead celebration must be skewing my thoughts. Please continue in nominal health for the anticipated span.)

  19. Miriam English on October 28, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Yay! Many grateful chuckles.
    Who could ask for anything better than brainfood seasoned liberally with chuckles?

    I foresee a time, some centuries from now when a mysterious person creates delightful cartoons about a 21st Century cartoonist named Sydney Padua who had previously expanded upon the improbable, yet somehow likely adventures of heroes Lovelace and Babbage.

    Verily, the geeks shall inherit the Earth (if we have not already).

  20. Rob Cope on October 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    New Lovelace & Babbage, huzzah!

    Is that Ally Sloper staggering down the alleyway of (possible) victimhood?

  21. Don MacDonald on October 28, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Great stuff as usual, thank you very much. I hope to see more one of these days.

  22. Lawrence Silver on October 28, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    So good to see Lovelace and Babbage again (while simultaneously not seeing them, of course, and akso not bot seeing them)
    And poem:

    For a while, a character from an unwritten book
    With a degree in sign language interpretation
    Would translate from the lower left corner

    Of my more important dreams. She grew bored
    And began doing quick summaries of the action

    “He is having another long conversation
    About bears. Now he is being chased by the sink
    From his apartment on Cottage Grove Avenue.
    He’s talking again but it’s just blather.

    Wouldn’t you rather watch me dance?”

    I admit she dances very well
    But she was distracting, making me ignore
    My dreams and they resented it.

    She comes by still from time to time
    If it’s rainy and she needs a place to sleep.
    When did my dreams become a refuge
    For imaginary folk without homes?

  23. Sara Davis on October 28, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Well, this is a gift on a day when I could use one! Thank You!

    I do hope the letter to Tennyson is real. It fits so perfectly into your Babbage.

  24. Joe Parrish on October 28, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Great seeing a new comic and loved it as well. Can’t wait to see part two.

  25. Poz on October 28, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Awesomeness unconstrained – new Lovelace and Babbage! In these dark days, the more light of a comic hue which can be thrown upon those fictional dark days the better…

  26. Paul Morriss on October 28, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    I’m glad to see one of these comics again after so long. It sounds like there’s plenty of story to mine in the historical documents around these two people.

  27. VB on October 28, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Fantastic see a new a new adventure from our (or at least my) favourite crime fighting duo. The world may be aware of Schrodinger’s Cat, but we can soon add to that pantheon Padua’s Criminal, neither guilty nor innocent until he has been caught.