Female Scientists

Something I found on Facebook, but I thought it was too cool not to post here. Female scientists don’t get nearly enough credit or publicity.

Science Is Awesome

Here are a few female scientists that you might not have heard of (but definitely should have). We haven’t included Marie Curie, because as much as we all love her, she is the automatic “female scientist” that always springs to mind and we think it’s time we branched out!

1. Ada Lovelace
Analyst, metaphysician, and founder of scientific computing. Read more about her life here: http://bit.ly/V3im
2. Rosalind Franklin
Biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer who made critical contributions to the understanding of the fine molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite. She received no credit for her contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA. More on her life: http://bit.ly/4CJMC0
3. Rachel Carson
Marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. More on her life: http://bit.ly/16f4Hcm
4. Lise Meitner
A physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. She was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, but was overlooked for the Nobel Prize in favour of male colleagues. More on her life: http://bit.ly/3js4zk
5. Cecilia Payne
Astronomer and astrophysicist who, in 1925, proposed in her Ph.D. thesis an explanation for the composition of stars in terms of the relative abundances of hydrogen and helium. More on her life: http://bit.ly/n4RNqS
6. Mary Anning
A paleontologist who made many important finds in the Jurassic marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis in Dorset. More on her life: http://bit.ly/rGXKq

female scientists

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Terry Pratchett Quote

Okay, so if you’ve read my previous post you’ll know that I mentioned a Terry Pratchett idea that is mentioned several times in his books and can be boiled down simply to- “Be yourself. As hard as you can.” Well, I decided I might as well be thorough and tracked one down. It’s a bit lengthy, but I like it and I feel like it says pretty much everything that needs to be said. It’s from Good Omens, which was cowritten by him and Neil Gaiman.

“Then something very strange happened to (Mary)… She discovered, under layers of silliness and eagerness to please, Mary Hodges. She found it quite easy to interpret builders’ estimates and do VAT calculations. She’d got some books from the library, and found finance to be both interesting and uncomplicated. She’d stopped reading the kind of women’s magazine that talks about romance and knitting and started reading the kind of women’s magazine that talked about orgasms, but apart from making a mental note to have one if ever the occasion presented itself she dismissed them as only romance and knitting in a new form. So she’d started reading the kind of magazine that talked about mergers.

After much thought, she’d bought a small home computer from an amused and condescending young dealer in Norton. After a crowded weekend, she took it back. Not, as he thought when she walked back into the shop, to have a plug put on it, but because it didn’t have a 387 co-processor. That bit he understood- he was a dealer, after all,  and could understand quite long words- but after that the conversation rapidly went downhill from his point of view. Mary Hodges produced yet more magazines. most of them had the term “PC” somewhere in their title, and many of them had articles and reviews that she had circled carefully in red ink.

She read about New Women. She hadn’t ever realized that she was an Old Woman, but after some though she decided that titles like that were all one with the romance and the knitting and the orgasms, and the really important thing to be was yourself, just as hard as you could.”

Repost: Being Happy in Yourself

I found this on Yahoo and had to share, because this woman makes a serious point. There is always something that’s wrong, that isn’t perfect enough. You need to be tall and statuesque, no- you need to be petite and 95 lbs. You need to have high cheekbones, no- full lips, no- sleepy eyes, no- you need wide doe eyes. You need a mysterious Mona Lisa smile, no- you need a wide vivacios smile, no- you need a seductive smile. It’s best to be fragile and vulnerable, no- it’s best to be quirky, no- it’s best to be confident and strong, no -it’s best to… blah blah blah. It’s endless. It’s never enough. No matter what you do, who you are, what you look like, it’s never enough, it’s never right. There’s always someone telling you that you should be someone else, shape yourself, body and soul, into someone else. Then you’ll be perfect, then you’ll be right, and then everything will be the fairy tale you see in books, movies and tv shows. Because it’s always that girl who has that indefinable combination that gets the happily ever after, that gets the guy, the career and the babies, who has all her dreams come true, and it’s always the imperfect characters who fall by the wayside, and are the object lessons for that indefinably perfect woman. These are lessons that we are taught through everything we touch from the moment we are born, lessons that are reinforced during school, when it’s the pretty, skinny, perfect girls in middle school and high school getting all the guys and going to all the parties.

There is no perfect and there is no right. Believe it or not, I got the best advice I have ever heard about how to be a woman and how to be comfortable in yourself from Terry Pratchett, who is not only a man but also somewhere at least in his 60s, maybe 70s. “The most important thing is to be yourself- as hard as you can.” I would say which book he says that in, but he says it in a couple and I honestly don’t remember which ones specifically. But seriously, that’s it, as far as I can tell, and that’s what she’s saying here. Just be yourself, as hard as you can. Simple and incredibly difficult, like all the best advice is.

What Losing 180 Pounds Really Does to Your Body — & Your Mind

By | Healthy LivingTue, Mar 19, 2013 12:39 PM EDT

By Jen Larsen, Refinery29

Jen Larsen is a fiercely real, funny, and honest writer. In her new book, Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head, she explains how losing 180 pounds and getting skinny wasn’t all she thought it would be. Here, in an essay for R29, she explains what it’s like to live through surgery – with unexpected results.

The doctor said, “It’ll be nice to be able to walk down the aisle of an airplane, right? To fit down the aisle, and to not see that look of horror when someone sees you coming.”
He said that because I weighed 300 pounds. He said that because he thought that all I wanted in life was to not be that creeping horror, shuffling sideways to the back of the plane, trying not to make eye contact with anyone because I didn’t want to see their relief when I passed by. Trying not to make eye contact with the person in my row because I didn’t want to see horror, and I really didn’t want to see pity, and I really didn’t want someone to lean over and explain to me that I was fat and that there are things I could do about it. Like water and jogging, or carrots and the Thighmaster.

He said that like it was a fact about all fat people. All fat people hate themselves. All fat people know that what’s good in life is really only accessible to thin people. Thin is the most important variable in of life’s equations. Thin equals happy, thin equals beautiful, thin equals a life worth living.

The most embarrassing fact of my life – and oh, how many embarrassing facts there are in my life – is that it was true. I was angry at him for saying it, for buying into the cliché of the fat person. For assuming that my life would transform immediately. Because he was saying all the things I had secretly thought. He was reinforcing all the secret fantasies I had about the way everything about me would be more amenable and lovable and acceptable to the whole rest of the world. To everyone on airplanes and everyone in my life. To myself. When I lost all the weight. When I got weight loss surgery.

He was my psychological consultant, the doctor who was tasked with clearing me for surgery. He signed off my mental and emotional fitness to get a surgery that I genuinely believed was going to save my life. Not just physically – though I was actually healthy – but emotionally.

And, three months later I got weight loss surgery. Seven months later I had lost over a hundred pounds; a year and a half from my surgery date, I had lost about 180 pounds. I lost a lot of things along with the weight. I lost my sense of self. My sense of proportion. My sense of dignity, of maturity, of control. I was skinny, but my life wasn’t suddenly and magically perfect-and that completely astonished me. It sounds ridiculous, having really fallen for the fairy tale of weight loss. But I had fallen for it completely, and then was blinded by the egregious lack of a happily ever after.

The nature of the weight loss surgery I got is that you can completely ignore the things the doctors tell you to do. They say, exercise, don’t drink, don’t smoke, eat well. And you don’t bother to do any of that, but still lose weight. You still lose every pound you want to lose, and then some.

The problem was that I lost all those pounds, but I didn’t have to change a thing about my self. I didn’t have to address any of the emotional or psychological issues. I didn’t have to figure out why I had been depressed – why I was still so, so depressed, despite the fact that the one thing I thought had been ruining my life was suddenly gone.

I was skinny, finally, and I was fascinated by the physicality of it. It was like my skeleton had floated up to the surface from the bottom of a murky pond. I had muscles and tendons and bones and in the shower I’d soap the ridges of my ribs, the knobs of my hipbones, and be amazed to make their acquaintance. It wasn’t pretty-I lost so much weight that I didn’t look like myself, and then I lost past that, to the point where I looked like a sick stranger. Briefly, I was a size two. Sometimes I was disappointed that I couldn’t be a size zero.

It doesn’t go away, you see. I thought that my body was wrong when I was obese; I thought my body was wrong when I was thin past the point of health. I thought there was something wrong with my body whatever I looked like, because there’s always just one more thing to fix before I look perfect, feel good in bed with hands on my body, feel sexy in a dress or a bathing suit, feel comfortable in my skin.

I felt helpless before. I tried to dodge out of the feeling by getting weight loss surgery, and now I’m angry. That I wasn’t fixed, yes. But also that so many people deal with this, this exact and pervasive struggle at whatever size they are, whatever shape, whatever they do. That we’re not good enough, with the implication that the best we have to offer to the world is an appropriately sized pair of jeans.

Magazine articles about body image talk about loving yourself despite your flaws. Sometimes they get really radical and they talk about loving yourself because of your flaws, and that is supposed to be empowering. And it makes me mad, because we’re talking about flaws here. A body that doesn’t look like the body of a Victoria’s Secret model is a flawed factory reject. My thighs aren’t the thighs of a figure skater, so they’re not good enough, but I should love the flubby little things anyway because I am so incredibly self-compassionate.

I want this: I want to say, don’t love yourself even though you’re not perfect – love yourself because you have a body and it’s worth loving and it is perfect. Be healthy, which is perfect at whatever size healthy is and at whatever size happy is. And of course that’s totally easy and I have just caused a revolution in body image. Let’s all go home now.

Right. So, I don’t know what the answer is, and I don’t know how to make it happen, and I don’t know what to do except keep yelling about it, wherever I can. Saying there’s no magic number, and there’s no perfect size – and of course you know that, but we have to keep telling each other because it’s hard to remember sometimes. We have to keep saying it. We have to figure out how to believe it.

http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/losing-180-pounds-really-does-body-8212-160-163900419.html

Theodore Roosevelt Quote

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

“Outlaw Empires” on Discovery Channel

So, I’ve started watching “Outlaw Empires” on the Discovery Channel, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a show that talks about the criminal organizations that flourish under our noses. The Italian mob, the Nuestra Familia, the Hell’s Angels, etc. I have to admit, I find it very disturbing. You see these guys, always ex- members, for obvious reasons, and they, oh so calmly, describe acts of theft, assault and murder. They don’t blink, they don’t look guilty, nothing. I mean, they must feel guilty, they have all, as far as I’ve seen, turned state’s witness so there must be some guilt and they all express guilt, but I look in their eyes and I don’t see guilt. Nor do I see someone who I would peg as a murderer, someone I would peg as violent. I know violent eyes, I’ve spotted them in the past, so it’s disturbing to me that I can’t tell with these violent men. Men who are admitted murderers, who used people and situations in whatever way they needed to get what they want.

And they talk about it so calmly. That’s what gets me. They’re so incredibly calm, like me telling a story about what happened at work that day. Which, I suppose they are, but you know what I mean.

Everyone has secrets and everyone has things to hide, even if it’s only something like “I ate a whole pizza in my underwear last night”, and gang members have even more to hide so it shouldn’t be surprising that they do it so well, but if we can’t spot them, can’t spot the violence, then that’s a pretty serious potential problem.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because they’re all reformed, but it’s still very disturbing. The show is very interesting, but very disturbing.

Venus Transit!

How cool is it that today we got to see something that only happens every 105 years? Completely badass! I went to the special viewing at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and it was awesome except for the whole ninety- something degrees thing, especially with the heat index at 100. That was less than fun. I kind of had to leave early since apparently I was dehydrated and almost got heat stroke. Around the time I got nauseous, even though the transit had just begun, I decided it was time to go home. So that sucked. The rest was good though!

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Before the transit started; you can see sun spots if you look closely

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Pretty large turn out!

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Just starting! You have to look very closely, but in the bottom right corner there’s a tiny spot that’s Venus. I know it was technically at the top, but I guess the whole illumination thing made it upside down.

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A little more advanced! And the rest I watched on NASATV, which I had not realized was a thing before today.

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I’m sorry that I didn’t get to see the rest of it, but the pictures on TV were better. Hope everyone got to see it!

“Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame- Smith

This is a really good book. I mean, I went into it expecting to like it, since it’s part of the recent trend of retconning classic literature or history to include things like vampire, werewolves or demons, which I think is hilarious and awesome, so I was pretty positive that I would like it before I ever read it. But I found myself impressed by, first of all, how well the author researched this book. This is clearly a man who has read a biography or two of Abraham Lincoln. I honestly expected to find a bibliography at the back of the book. And secondly, I was very impressed by how well he wove the whole “vampire hunter” thing into Lincoln’s life and American history. Now, I don’t know a whole lot about Lincoln’s pre- president life, I know what I learned in history class basically since I’ve never been terribly interested in the Civil War, but what he wrote seemed pretty accurate to what I knew and what I sort of vaguely remembered hearing about. And the part about how vampires were the true villains behind the south and slavery? Awesome! And it actually kind of made total sense, in a really weird way. Of course vampires would see that as a perfect way to feed. Why wouldn’t they? Who would go after them for it? Okay, who in the south would go after them for it?

I can’t say as I was totally impressed by the “vampire hunter” part of it, since we never actually see Abe doing that much vampire hunting in the book. It’s mentioned that he does it, and that he is a great hunter, but the author mostly focuses on actual biographical information about Lincoln’s life, slightly to the detriment of his street cred. The reader just kind of has to take his word for it that Abe is as big of a badass as he says he is. Hopefully that will be fixed in the movie, which I am very much looking forward to.

Also, I felt like there were a few too many description of dreams in the book. It happens like four or five times in a 336 page book. That’s a bit much. And at least two of those times he pulled the same thing, where it treats the dream like it’s really happening until all of a sudden Abe is jerking upright in bed and gasping. That’s kind of an old, tired trick to pull in the first place, and to pull it more than once is kind of sad. That said, the bit of foreshadowing of Lincoln’s death was nice, and nicely Shakespearian, though honestly who needed it? Does anyone not know that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated? Anyone? But maybe he was trying to play like we didn’t know what would happen to Lincoln, like he was introducing us to a brand new character, or a little known person from history or something. An odd card to play, but whatever.

All in all though, an awesome book and one that I’m very glad that I read. It sat in my To- Read stack for over a year before I ever got around to it, and now I feel bad for that. So, for anyone who’s been intending to read it, but just hasn’t yet- go ahead and dig it out. You will not regret it and will walk away with a serious new respect for Abraham Lincoln. Not that I was lacking in it before, he’s always been one of my favorite presidents, but learning all this new stuff about him, even filtering out the vampire stuff, has made that respect blossom into possible hero worship. And to then make him a vampire hunter, well… he’s a total badass. And an awesome president. I especially love his quip to cowardly general Mclellan “If you do not want to use the army, I would very much like to borrow it.”