Science & Nature

Computing Venus: The Astronomy of Maria Mitchell (Women in Science 38)

Computing Venus: The Astronomy of Maria Mitchell (Women in Science 38)

In the early nineteenth century nothing about the island of Nantucket made sense. It was simultaneously a hotbed of Quakerism and of the notoriously bawdy and violent whaling industry, a deeply conservative and god-fearing community that was at the same time at the fore-front of gender equality in education and racial justice. For a few decades, before the collapse of the whaling industry and the ... »

Belle Benchley and the Creation of the Modern Zoo (Women in Science 34)

Belle Benchley and the Creation of the Modern Zoo (Women in Science 34)

Think back to your last zoo trip. More likely than not, most of the larger animals were contained in open air facilities, with features tailored to the animal’s native landscape. The animals probably had free access to sleeping quarters away from the public view, and diets based upon their natural food sources. You might not have seen it, but there was almost definitely an on-site veterinary... »

The stars in our cells

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 statistical methods used to model both phenomena are exactly the same. It’s one of those rare... »

Anna Atkins: Bontanist, Photographer, Pioneer

Anna Atkins: Bontanist, Photographer, Pioneer

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 216th birthday of Anna Atkins, English botanist and photographer. While that may not sound remarkable at first, those simple credentials take on a new night when we consider the context: at that time, women were considered as amateur scientists only, and photography was new. In 1843, Atkins published “Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressi... »

Making Continents Move: The Ocean Cartography of Marie Tharp (Women in Science 31)

Making Continents Move: The Ocean Cartography of Marie Tharp (Women in Science 31)

If you’re a scientist, and you’ve lived long enough, there’s a good chance that you’ll see your life’s work overwritten and forgotten in a long, piecemeal process blandly punctuated by retrospective award banquets every half decade or so. Science moves on, but usually at a pace that lets you keep your sense of self-worth well into your autumn years. Every so often, ho... »

The Monster in Dr. McClintock: The Twisted Tale of Jumping Genes

The Monster in Dr. McClintock: The Twisted Tale of Jumping Genes

Isolation makes monsters, and none so monstrous as those who willingly seek it. It is hard to work up a great deal of sympathy for individuals who, under the banner of intellectual freedom, demand the resources to do whatever they want, however they want to do it, and then routinely bite the hands of those who make their ideal life possible. The heroism of hyper individualism runs hard against our... »

The Illustrated Women In Science: Year One!

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 volume, dear friends.  With luscious full color interiors and a lovely introdu... »

Our Neighbor Australopithecus: The Anthropology of Mary Leakey

Our Neighbor Australopithecus: The Anthropology of Mary Leakey

The 1960s and early 1970s were the Rock Star era of anthropology, when each year seemed to bring a stunning new glimpse into the early development of man, and being a top anthropologist was to be a household name on par with Buzz Aldrin or Leonard Bernstein. And while individual superstars like Donald Johanson shone meteorically from time to time in the firmament, the era as a whole belonged to on... »

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