11th Jan 2014
Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr. Aprille Ericsson
Aprille Ericsson (1963–) is an aerospace engineer and the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Ericsson spent her childhood in Brooklyn, New York, where she cultivated an interest in science and mathematics. She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she received a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, and during her undergrad, she worked on a variety of projects geared towards manned space flight, which motivated her to attend Howard University to gain her Masters and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering (Aerospace).
She went on to receive a PhD in Engineering at the Goddard Space Flight Center, becoming the first African American female to do so, and has applied to NASA’s astronaut program.
Eriscsson is currently working as an aerospace engineer at GSFC, where she designs and tests spacecraft, so if you think of any major space missions over the last twenty years, there’s a good chance Ericsson was involved in their success.
She’s also a motivational speaker and a mentor to mainly girls and minorities, and has commented: “I feel obligated to continue to help spur the interest of minorities and females in the math, science and engineering disciplines. Without diversity in all fields the United States will not remain technically competitive.”
Among other honours, Ericsson has also won four NASA awards for excellence and the 1997 ‘Women in Science and Engineering’ award for the best female engineer in the federal government.

Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr. Aprille Ericsson

Aprille Ericsson (1963–) is an aerospace engineer and the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Ericsson spent her childhood in Brooklyn, New York, where she cultivated an interest in science and mathematics. She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she received a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, and during her undergrad, she worked on a variety of projects geared towards manned space flight, which motivated her to attend Howard University to gain her Masters and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering (Aerospace).

She went on to receive a PhD in Engineering at the Goddard Space Flight Center, becoming the first African American female to do so, and has applied to NASA’s astronaut program.

Eriscsson is currently working as an aerospace engineer at GSFC, where she designs and tests spacecraft, so if you think of any major space missions over the last twenty years, there’s a good chance Ericsson was involved in their success.

She’s also a motivational speaker and a mentor to mainly girls and minorities, and has commented: “I feel obligated to continue to help spur the interest of minorities and females in the math, science and engineering disciplines. Without diversity in all fields the United States will not remain technically competitive.”

Among other honours, Ericsson has also won four NASA awards for excellence and the 1997 ‘Women in Science and Engineering’ award for the best female engineer in the federal government.

11th Sep 2013
Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr. Rebecca Cole

Dr. Rebecca Cole (1846–1922) was a physician, a social reformer, and the second African-American women to graduate from medical school in the United States. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and studied a rigorous curriculum of Latin, Greek, and mathematics at an all-black high school called the Institute for Colored Youth. She then attended the New England Female Medical College, which was founded in 1848 and whose first graduate was Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first white female physician. The institution was run by women from the first generation of female physicians. After graduating in 1867, Cole went on to work at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children (founded by Blackwell in 1857), where she taught hygiene and prenatal/infant care to low-income families. Cole practiced in Columbia, South Carolina, for a short time, before opening a Women’s Directory Center in Philadelphia in 1873, providing free medical and legal services to women and children living in poverty, helping prevent feticide, infanticide, baby farming, and child abandonment. In 1899, Cole was appointed superintendant of the Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D.C, and for much of her life she was a sought-after public lecturer on public health. She had a pretty badass career, overcoming huge gender and racial barriers, and even being bold enough to call white doctors out on their bullshit—at the time, the medical community claimed that high African-American mortality rates were caused by an ignorance of hygiene, but Cole argued that actually, it was because white doctors were unwilling to take proper medical records of their black patients. She lived in a time when those of her gender and race were denied privileges at existing institutions, so people like Cole became trailblazers, creating their own institutions to help the segregated and underprivileged. But although Cole practiced medicine for over fifty years, few records survive of her to celebrate her, and no images remain.

Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr. Rebecca Cole

Dr. Rebecca Cole (1846–1922) was a physician, a social reformer, and the second African-American women to graduate from medical school in the United States. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and studied a rigorous curriculum of Latin, Greek, and mathematics at an all-black high school called the Institute for Colored Youth. She then attended the New England Female Medical College, which was founded in 1848 and whose first graduate was Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first white female physician. The institution was run by women from the first generation of female physicians. After graduating in 1867, Cole went on to work at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children (founded by Blackwell in 1857), where she taught hygiene and prenatal/infant care to low-income families. Cole practiced in Columbia, South Carolina, for a short time, before opening a Women’s Directory Center in Philadelphia in 1873, providing free medical and legal services to women and children living in poverty, helping prevent feticide, infanticide, baby farming, and child abandonment. In 1899, Cole was appointed superintendant of the Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D.C, and for much of her life she was a sought-after public lecturer on public health. She had a pretty badass career, overcoming huge gender and racial barriers, and even being bold enough to call white doctors out on their bullshit—at the time, the medical community claimed that high African-American mortality rates were caused by an ignorance of hygiene, but Cole argued that actually, it was because white doctors were unwilling to take proper medical records of their black patients. She lived in a time when those of her gender and race were denied privileges at existing institutions, so people like Cole became trailblazers, creating their own institutions to help the segregated and underprivileged. But although Cole practiced medicine for over fifty years, few records survive of her to celebrate her, and no images remain.

2nd Jul 2013
Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr Fiona Wood
Fiona Wood (1958–) is a British-Australian plastic surgeon best known for her work in burns care and skin reconstruction. Born in Yorkshire, she studied medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School in London and worked in various major hospitals before immigrating to Perth, Australia, with her husband and two children in 1987. Here she completed her studies in plastic and reconstructive surgery (in between having four more children) and focused her interests on burns treatments. While treating severe burns patients in the early 1990s, Wood became a pioneer in skin cell transplant technology. Traditionally, treating large burns involves grafting on sheets of cultured skin, which are grown from the patient’s own skin cells, but they usually take up to 21 days to grow. Wood realised that scarring dramatically decreased if the wound was treated within 10 days, so she developed a technique nicknamed “spray-on skin.” The sample skin cells from the patient are cultured in just five days, then sprayed evenly onto the burn area using an aerosol delivery system, where the cells are cultured more quickly than in the lab—the wound actually acts as an ideal culture medium. This leaves much less scarring, and the cells are unlikely to be rejected since they’re from the patient’s own body. When 28 victims of the Bali bombings were urgently flown to Perth in 2002, Wood and her colleagues were well-prepared with this technique—and despite how severe the burns were and how many patients they had to deal with simultaneously, they managed to save 25 of the 28 victims. The spray-on skin technology was adopted around the world, and Wood founded a company called Avita Medical and charity called the Fiona Wood Foundation to research, develop and promote tissue engineering. She received a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003, and became Australian of the Year in 2005. Wood is currently the Director of the Western Australia Burns Service and a consultant plastic surgeon, and is focusing on a way to develop “scarless healing.”

Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr Fiona Wood

Fiona Wood (1958–) is a British-Australian plastic surgeon best known for her work in burns care and skin reconstruction. Born in Yorkshire, she studied medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School in London and worked in various major hospitals before immigrating to Perth, Australia, with her husband and two children in 1987. Here she completed her studies in plastic and reconstructive surgery (in between having four more children) and focused her interests on burns treatments. While treating severe burns patients in the early 1990s, Wood became a pioneer in skin cell transplant technology. Traditionally, treating large burns involves grafting on sheets of cultured skin, which are grown from the patient’s own skin cells, but they usually take up to 21 days to grow. Wood realised that scarring dramatically decreased if the wound was treated within 10 days, so she developed a technique nicknamed “spray-on skin.” The sample skin cells from the patient are cultured in just five days, then sprayed evenly onto the burn area using an aerosol delivery system, where the cells are cultured more quickly than in the lab—the wound actually acts as an ideal culture medium. This leaves much less scarring, and the cells are unlikely to be rejected since they’re from the patient’s own body. When 28 victims of the Bali bombings were urgently flown to Perth in 2002, Wood and her colleagues were well-prepared with this technique—and despite how severe the burns were and how many patients they had to deal with simultaneously, they managed to save 25 of the 28 victims. The spray-on skin technology was adopted around the world, and Wood founded a company called Avita Medical and charity called the Fiona Wood Foundation to research, develop and promote tissue engineering. She received a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003, and became Australian of the Year in 2005. Wood is currently the Director of the Western Australia Burns Service and a consultant plastic surgeon, and is focusing on a way to develop “scarless healing.”

14th Apr 2013
Psychological Basis for the Color of Love
Red has long been associated with love around the world, and in studies conducted in 2008 and 2010, psychologists at the University of Rochester — including Daniela Niesta Kayser, pictured above — gave the color scientific backing when they showed that both men and women find the color red more sexually appealing than other colors. One type of experiment showed the subject a black-and-white photo of a person, framed in various colors; another varied the shirt color of the person in the photo. (The photos were digitally manipulated to ensure consistency, and the colors were precisely matched in saturation and brightness levels, differing only in hue.) Subjects were then asked to rate the person in the photo based on different characteristics. Consistently, photo subjects framed in red or wearing red were rated as significantly more attractive and sexually desirable than those framed in or wearing other colors. The results from one experiment in the 2008 study showed that men expressed a willingness to spend more money while on a date if the woman was wearing red. However, the presence/absence of red did not change how men or women rated the subject of the photo in terms of likability, intelligence, or kindness. In addition, the studies showed that red had an effect on a straight man or woman only when shown a person of the opposite gender. The presence/absence of red didn’t affect how straight men and women rated the attractiveness of someone of the same gender. But what about men and women who don’t identify as straight? Perhaps further research will explore how red affects members of the LGBT community when rating people of the same and opposite genders.
(Image Credit: University of Rochester)
Guest Post written by lizhasthoughts

Psychological Basis for the Color of Love

Red has long been associated with love around the world, and in studies conducted in 2008 and 2010, psychologists at the University of Rochester — including Daniela Niesta Kayser, pictured above — gave the color scientific backing when they showed that both men and women find the color red more sexually appealing than other colors. One type of experiment showed the subject a black-and-white photo of a person, framed in various colors; another varied the shirt color of the person in the photo. (The photos were digitally manipulated to ensure consistency, and the colors were precisely matched in saturation and brightness levels, differing only in hue.) Subjects were then asked to rate the person in the photo based on different characteristics. Consistently, photo subjects framed in red or wearing red were rated as significantly more attractive and sexually desirable than those framed in or wearing other colors. The results from one experiment in the 2008 study showed that men expressed a willingness to spend more money while on a date if the woman was wearing red. However, the presence/absence of red did not change how men or women rated the subject of the photo in terms of likability, intelligence, or kindness. In addition, the studies showed that red had an effect on a straight man or woman only when shown a person of the opposite gender. The presence/absence of red didn’t affect how straight men and women rated the attractiveness of someone of the same gender. But what about men and women who don’t identify as straight? Perhaps further research will explore how red affects members of the LGBT community when rating people of the same and opposite genders.

(Image Credit: University of Rochester)

Guest Post written by lizhasthoughts

12th Apr 2013
Badass Scientist of the Week: Caroline Herschel 
Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) grew up in Germany, as the daughter of a professional musician. Her father gave all his children a broad basic education in art, music, and science. His wife did not approve of educating her daughter, and when her father died, Caroline’s mother put her to work in the kitchen. Caroline had had several childhood diseases that had left her slightly disfigured, and her mother didn’t think she’d be good enough to marry, so she settled on a life of housework for her daughter.  Meanwhile, one of Caroline’s older brothers, William Herschel, had moved to England, where he was working as a composer and music director, and built telescopes in his spare time. When he found out that his mother had put his sister to work as a servant, he invited Caroline to move in with him in England. She did, and quickly got a successful career as a singer. While Caroline stayed with William, he made a discovery that would change both of their lives. Using a telescope he built himself, William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. He was hired by King George III as “King’s Astronomer”, and quit his music career to devote all his time to science. Caroline helped him out, first by cleaning lenses and taking notes, but later with astronomical observations of her own.  She discovered a number of comets, including one that was named after her, and as reward for her work, the state paid Caroline a regular stipend, making her the very first woman to receive a salary for scientific work. 
Guest article written by Eva, who writes about scientists/musicians on easternblot.net and on Tumblr as MusiSci

Badass Scientist of the Week: Caroline Herschel

Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) grew up in Germany, as the daughter of a professional musician. Her father gave all his children a broad basic education in art, music, and science. His wife did not approve of educating her daughter, and when her father died, Caroline’s mother put her to work in the kitchen. Caroline had had several childhood diseases that had left her slightly disfigured, and her mother didn’t think she’d be good enough to marry, so she settled on a life of housework for her daughter.  Meanwhile, one of Caroline’s older brothers, William Herschel, had moved to England, where he was working as a composer and music director, and built telescopes in his spare time. When he found out that his mother had put his sister to work as a servant, he invited Caroline to move in with him in England. She did, and quickly got a successful career as a singer. While Caroline stayed with William, he made a discovery that would change both of their lives. Using a telescope he built himself, William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. He was hired by King George III as “King’s Astronomer”, and quit his music career to devote all his time to science. Caroline helped him out, first by cleaning lenses and taking notes, but later with astronomical observations of her own.  She discovered a number of comets, including one that was named after her, and as reward for her work, the state paid Caroline a regular stipend, making her the very first woman to receive a salary for scientific work.

Guest article written by Eva, who writes about scientists/musicians on easternblot.net and on Tumblr as MusiSci

10th Mar 2013
Badass Scientist of the Week: Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace, born Augusta Ada Byron (1815–1852), was a mathematician who is widely considered the founder of scientific computing. She was the daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron and mathematician Anne Milbanke, whose brief marriage ended just a month after Ada was born—she never knew her father. Ada was raised by her mother, who encouraged her interest in mathematics and science, partly to prevent her from becoming a delinquent poet like her father. When she was seventeen, Ada met Charles Babbage, professor of mathematics at Cambridge and inventor of the Difference Engine, the first calculating machine. They began correspondences about mathematics, logic, and all manner of subjects. Two years later, Ada married William King and had three children, and became a Countess of Loveless when William inherited a noble title. In 1834, Babbage made plans for a new kind of calculating machine called an Analytical Engine, and in 1842, Italian mathematician Louis Menabrea published an article on the machine in French. Babbage enlisted Ada to translate it, a task she threw herself into with fervour—she translated the article over a nine-month period in 1842–43, adding extensive, enlightened notes of her own, which are the source of her enduring fame. Her notes show she understood the device’s potential better than Babbage, as they contained incredible visionary statements—she predicted, for example, that the Engine might act upon things other than numbers, such as composing elaborate scientific pieces of music. The idea that a machine could manipulate symbols according to laws, and that numbers could be used to represent things other than just quantities, marks the transition from calculation to computation. Ada took this mental leap, and she has been referred to as the ‘prophet of the computer age’ and an ‘Enchantress of Numbers’. She died young, cancer taking her at just 37, but her achievements as a mathematician and a woman live on in her legacy. In 1980, in honour of her contributions to computer science, the U.S. Department of Defence named its computer language ‘Ada.’

Badass Scientist of the Week: Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace, born Augusta Ada Byron (1815–1852), was a mathematician who is widely considered the founder of scientific computing. She was the daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron and mathematician Anne Milbanke, whose brief marriage ended just a month after Ada was born—she never knew her father. Ada was raised by her mother, who encouraged her interest in mathematics and science, partly to prevent her from becoming a delinquent poet like her father. When she was seventeen, Ada met Charles Babbage, professor of mathematics at Cambridge and inventor of the Difference Engine, the first calculating machine. They began correspondences about mathematics, logic, and all manner of subjects. Two years later, Ada married William King and had three children, and became a Countess of Loveless when William inherited a noble title. In 1834, Babbage made plans for a new kind of calculating machine called an Analytical Engine, and in 1842, Italian mathematician Louis Menabrea published an article on the machine in French. Babbage enlisted Ada to translate it, a task she threw herself into with fervour—she translated the article over a nine-month period in 1842–43, adding extensive, enlightened notes of her own, which are the source of her enduring fame. Her notes show she understood the device’s potential better than Babbage, as they contained incredible visionary statements—she predicted, for example, that the Engine might act upon things other than numbers, such as composing elaborate scientific pieces of music. The idea that a machine could manipulate symbols according to laws, and that numbers could be used to represent things other than just quantities, marks the transition from calculation to computation. Ada took this mental leap, and she has been referred to as the ‘prophet of the computer age’ and an ‘Enchantress of Numbers’. She died young, cancer taking her at just 37, but her achievements as a mathematician and a woman live on in her legacy. In 1980, in honour of her contributions to computer science, the U.S. Department of Defence named its computer language ‘Ada.’

9th Mar 2013

Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

To celebrate, check out my women in science tag to read about some amazing women doing amazing things.

18th Feb 2013
Badass Scientist of the Week: Rosalind Franklin
Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958) was a biophysicist and X-Ray crystallographer who made important and controversial contributions to our current understanding of DNA. She graduated from Cambridge in 1941, then went to study carbon and graphite microstructures for the British Coal Utilization Research Association before returning to Cambridge to earn her doctorate in 1945. Franklin then worked in Paris for a period, where she learned X-ray diffraction techniques, then she returned in 1951 to work as a research associate at King’s College, London. It was here she began to solve the mystery of DNA’s structure. Scientists knew that DNA was a genetic material, capable of storing the information needed to create a living being, but its structure and inner workings were still largely a mystery. Franklin worked with Maurice Wilkins, who at first thought she was his assistant—he was quickly set straight, but the university environment was not a friendly one for Franklin, with male-only dining halls and pubs. Still, Franklin persisted with her work, applying X-Ray diffraction techniques to create crystallographic portraits of DNA, which J. D. Bernal called “the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken.” Franklin discovered that DNA has two forms, and invented an ingenious method to separate them. She discovered that the helical structure of DNA has two strands, that the backbone of DNA lies on the outside, and noted details about its shape and size. But she before she could discover how the bases paired inside the helix—the secret to heredity—James Watson and Francis Crick figured it out first. But not entirely on their own. Maurice Wilkins, who had a tense relationship with Franklin, showed Watson one of Franklin’s crystallographic portraits. Watson at once saw the solution to their question, and he and Crick published their findings—Franklin didn’t realise the slight, assuming they had fairly beaten her to the discovery. She later moved to J. D. Bernal’s lab to work on the tobacco mosaic virus and polio, but became ill with ovarian cancer in 1956, and died two years later. In 1962, Watson, Crick and Wilkins were awarded a Nobel Prize for their work on the structure of DNA. Watson and Crick made it clear that Franklin’s work played an essential role in their discovery, but since the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously, Franklin—despite her tenacity, ingenuity and badassery—was not even acknowledged.

Badass Scientist of the Week: Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958) was a biophysicist and X-Ray crystallographer who made important and controversial contributions to our current understanding of DNA. She graduated from Cambridge in 1941, then went to study carbon and graphite microstructures for the British Coal Utilization Research Association before returning to Cambridge to earn her doctorate in 1945. Franklin then worked in Paris for a period, where she learned X-ray diffraction techniques, then she returned in 1951 to work as a research associate at King’s College, London. It was here she began to solve the mystery of DNA’s structure. Scientists knew that DNA was a genetic material, capable of storing the information needed to create a living being, but its structure and inner workings were still largely a mystery. Franklin worked with Maurice Wilkins, who at first thought she was his assistant—he was quickly set straight, but the university environment was not a friendly one for Franklin, with male-only dining halls and pubs. Still, Franklin persisted with her work, applying X-Ray diffraction techniques to create crystallographic portraits of DNA, which J. D. Bernal called “the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken.” Franklin discovered that DNA has two forms, and invented an ingenious method to separate them. She discovered that the helical structure of DNA has two strands, that the backbone of DNA lies on the outside, and noted details about its shape and size. But she before she could discover how the bases paired inside the helix—the secret to heredity—James Watson and Francis Crick figured it out first. But not entirely on their own. Maurice Wilkins, who had a tense relationship with Franklin, showed Watson one of Franklin’s crystallographic portraits. Watson at once saw the solution to their question, and he and Crick published their findings—Franklin didn’t realise the slight, assuming they had fairly beaten her to the discovery. She later moved to J. D. Bernal’s lab to work on the tobacco mosaic virus and polio, but became ill with ovarian cancer in 1956, and died two years later. In 1962, Watson, Crick and Wilkins were awarded a Nobel Prize for their work on the structure of DNA. Watson and Crick made it clear that Franklin’s work played an essential role in their discovery, but since the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously, Franklin—despite her tenacity, ingenuity and badassery—was not even acknowledged.

10th Jan 2013
Badass Scientist of the Week: Mary Anning
Mary Anning (1799-1847) was a British fossil collector and paleontologist most well-known for a number of finds that she made in the cliffs surrounding her seaside home in Dorset, England. Fundamental changes in scientific thinking, especially regarding prehistoric life and the history of the Earth, were due in large part to her work. Dorset, where she also lived as a child, was quickly becoming a popular tourist destination by the early 1800s. The wealthy visitors were more than eager to gobble up the variety of fossils that the Anning family found and sold as ‘curios.’ In 1811, Anning made her first important discovery at the age of 12. It was the four foot skull of an ichthyosaur, a marine reptile that lived during the time of dinosaurs. She soon unearthed the rest of the fossil. The discovery shook up majority England’s long-held belief in Biblical Creation and forced people to question the assumption that the Earth was only a few thousand years old. Anning also found the first complete Plesiosaurus fossil, another large marine reptile, and the first British pterosaur fossil, a flying reptile. Fossil hunting was most successful during the winter when landslides on the cliffs would reveal what lay underneath. It was through one of these winter slides that her dog Tray, her faithful fossil hunting companion, was crushed to his death at her feet. Because Anning was a working woman, she did not have much say in the scientific community of the time. In fact, she only ever published in one scientific journal. However, her sketches and writings on ancient life are some of the most-detailed and highly-revered from the time period. Mary Anning has since become a figure of increased interest, and finally received a little of the recognition that she deserves when—only one hundred and sixty-three years after her death—she was ranked among the ten most influential women in the history of science.
Guest article written by Jake Heller

Badass Scientist of the Week: Mary Anning

Mary Anning (1799-1847) was a British fossil collector and paleontologist most well-known for a number of finds that she made in the cliffs surrounding her seaside home in Dorset, England. Fundamental changes in scientific thinking, especially regarding prehistoric life and the history of the Earth, were due in large part to her work. Dorset, where she also lived as a child, was quickly becoming a popular tourist destination by the early 1800s. The wealthy visitors were more than eager to gobble up the variety of fossils that the Anning family found and sold as ‘curios.’ In 1811, Anning made her first important discovery at the age of 12. It was the four foot skull of an ichthyosaur, a marine reptile that lived during the time of dinosaurs. She soon unearthed the rest of the fossil. The discovery shook up majority England’s long-held belief in Biblical Creation and forced people to question the assumption that the Earth was only a few thousand years old. Anning also found the first complete Plesiosaurus fossil, another large marine reptile, and the first British pterosaur fossil, a flying reptile. Fossil hunting was most successful during the winter when landslides on the cliffs would reveal what lay underneath. It was through one of these winter slides that her dog Tray, her faithful fossil hunting companion, was crushed to his death at her feet. Because Anning was a working woman, she did not have much say in the scientific community of the time. In fact, she only ever published in one scientific journal. However, her sketches and writings on ancient life are some of the most-detailed and highly-revered from the time period. Mary Anning has since become a figure of increased interest, and finally received a little of the recognition that she deserves when—only one hundred and sixty-three years after her death—she was ranked among the ten most influential women in the history of science.

Guest article written by Jake Heller

2nd Jan 2013
Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr Lise Meitner
Dr Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was a Jewish Austrian-Swedish physicist known for her co-discovery of nuclear fission. Her passion for physics was inspired by her teacher at university, Ludwig Boltzmann, who taught her to see physics as “a battle for ultimate truth”, and in 1906 she became the second woman ever to graduate with a doctorate of physics from the University of Vienna. After moving to Berlin in 1907, she began to collaborate with Otto Hahn, a German chemist. Their partnership would last for 30 years and, by pooling their knowledge of physics and chemistry, they made huge breakthroughs in nuclear physics. In 1934, after Enrico Fermi split uranium, it fell to them to puzzle over the results. As a Jewish woman in Nazi Germany, Meitner was always in danger, but the Anschluss of 1938 forced her to flee under cover of darkness, breaking for the Dutch border. She travelled on to Stockholm, while Hahn and Fritz Strassmann continued to work in Berlin. The three later met secretly to plan their next experiments. Back in Berlin, Hahn and Strassmann bombarded uranium with neutrons and sent the results to Meitner; they had detected barium, a smaller nucleus. She and her nephew, Otto Frisch, correctly interpreted this as proof of nuclear fission, and recognised the potential for weaponisation. When asked to join the Manhattan Project, Meitner refused, declaring ‘I will have nothing to do with a bomb!’After downplaying Meitner’s contribution for years, Hahn won the 1944 Nobel Prize for Chemistry while Meitner was ignored; modern commentators call this one of the most glaring omissions of the 20th century, though this was somewhat rectified when Hahn, Meitner and Strassmann won the US Fermi Prize in 1966. Meitner eventually retired to Cambridge, England in 1960, where she lived until she died. The inscription on her headstone, composed by her nephew, reads “Lise Meitner: a physicist who never lost her humanity.”     
Guest article written by Emma (elcorfeet.tumblr.com)

Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr Lise Meitner

Dr Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was a Jewish Austrian-Swedish physicist known for her co-discovery of nuclear fission. Her passion for physics was inspired by her teacher at university, Ludwig Boltzmann, who taught her to see physics as “a battle for ultimate truth”, and in 1906 she became the second woman ever to graduate with a doctorate of physics from the University of Vienna. After moving to Berlin in 1907, she began to collaborate with Otto Hahn, a German chemist. Their partnership would last for 30 years and, by pooling their knowledge of physics and chemistry, they made huge breakthroughs in nuclear physics. In 1934, after Enrico Fermi split uranium, it fell to them to puzzle over the results. As a Jewish woman in Nazi Germany, Meitner was always in danger, but the Anschluss of 1938 forced her to flee under cover of darkness, breaking for the Dutch border. She travelled on to Stockholm, while Hahn and Fritz Strassmann continued to work in Berlin. The three later met secretly to plan their next experiments. Back in Berlin, Hahn and Strassmann bombarded uranium with neutrons and sent the results to Meitner; they had detected barium, a smaller nucleus. She and her nephew, Otto Frisch, correctly interpreted this as proof of nuclear fission, and recognised the potential for weaponisation. When asked to join the Manhattan Project, Meitner refused, declaring ‘I will have nothing to do with a bomb!’After downplaying Meitner’s contribution for years, Hahn won the 1944 Nobel Prize for Chemistry while Meitner was ignored; modern commentators call this one of the most glaring omissions of the 20th century, though this was somewhat rectified when Hahn, Meitner and Strassmann won the US Fermi Prize in 1966. Meitner eventually retired to Cambridge, England in 1960, where she lived until she died. The inscription on her headstone, composed by her nephew, reads “Lise Meitner: a physicist who never lost her humanity.”    

Guest article written by Emma (elcorfeet.tumblr.com)