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Western Science’s Last Breath Before Dying: Hypatia Of Alexandria (Women in Science 49)

By 400 CE, Alexandria was a nervous husk dancing the edge of zealous self-annihilation.  For centuries the intellectual capital of the world, boasting the largest storehouse of scientific and cultural information ever assembled, a succession of paranoid archbishops employing gangs of religious thugs had leveled the centers of learning and …


Ada Lovelace and the Curious Practice of Programming for Non-Existent Computers (Women in Science 45)

What did Ada Lovelace do? She is one of the most fetishized scientists today – at conventions when I’m taking sketch commissions she ranks just behind Tesla (speaking of massively if justifiably fetishized historical figures) and Newton as my most requested scientist.  But when I ask Why Ada Lovelace, I …

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Grace Hopper and the Democratization of Computer Programming (Women in Science 35)

In a room across the hall from where I teach, a group of a dozen kids between the ages of nine and thirteen are learning how to program in Python, grasping the basics of the language with what can only be described as freakish ease and comfort. It’s quite a …

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The stars in our cells

A relatively recent study showed that transcription factors tend to hang out in specific areas of the nucleus, clustering like stars in galaxies. And it’s been rattling around in my head as potentially perfect for Mad Art Lab because they do, in fact, cluster like stars in galaxies — the …

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Julia Robinson and the Cracking of Hilbert’s Tenth Problem (Women in Science 33)

For mathematicians, the only thing more exciting than proving a theorem is proving that it can never be proven. These anti-proofs, if you will, stand firmly against all future progress of humanity and state, “No matter how clever you become, what new branches of thought you invent, you’ll never be …

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The Illustrated Women In Science: Year One!

Thrill to the jungle-crawling entomology of Maria Merian, cheer at the multi-dimensional mathematics of Maryam Mirzakhani, weep at the tragic end of Sofia Kovalevskaya, and gasp at the universe-cracking insights of Emmy Noether!  All 26 of the MadArtLab Women In Science cartoons and essays are now available in one handy …


It Came From Teichmueller Space! The Mathematical Adventures of Maryam Mirzakhani

A square, who works as a lawyer in the two-dimensional world of Flatland, sits down with his hexagonal grandson:   Taking nine squares, each an inch every way, I had put them together so as to make one large square, with a side of three inches, and I had hence …

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The Woman Who Saved Shakespeare and Helped Win Two Wars: Cryptanalyst Elizebeth Friedman (Women In Science 20)

Before Elizebeth and William Friedman, American cryptanalysis did not exist. The best thing we had, theoretically, were the occasional musings of Edgar Allen Poe, and even those were decidedly dilettantish put next to the organized efforts existing since the Elizabethan era in England. When World War I came to the …