Women in Science
Museum Pick: March 9 - 23, 2009
Women in Science explores important, but little-known, women scientists and their contributions. Although these women deserve recognition, no one knows who they are. Unfortunately, majority of people could not name a single female scientist except Marie Curie.
I've depicted fifteen women scientists: Elizabeth Blackwell, Kathleen Yardley Lonsdale, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Lise Meitner, Marie Curie, Emmy Noether, Chien Shiung Wu, Agnes Pockles, Rosalind Franklin, Maria Geoppart-Mayer, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Maria Mitchell, Beatrix Potter and Barbara McClintock. Five of them are featured here. How many of them did you hear of before?
Kathleen Yardley Lonsdale: Chemist 1903-1971
She solved a 64-year contention in chemistry by confirming experimentally the ring structure of benzene, the aromatic compound responsible for scent. She also gave the structure's precise molecular dimensions. In 1945, she was the first woman to be elected to fellowship in the Royal Society, which had excluded women for 285 years. Kathleen looking clever in her benzene ring glasses. Henrietta Swan Leavitt: Astrononomer 1868-1961
In her career at Harvard College Observatory, she discovered more than 2,400 variable stars. She saw a direct correlation between the time it took a star to go from bright to dim and the star's actual brightness. Knowing this relationship helped other astronomers, such as Edwin Hubble, make their own groundbreaking discoveries. Henrietta models a distant galaxy. Marie Curie: Physicist and Chemist 1867-1934
She was a pioneering scientist who won the Nobel Prize twice. She was awarded in 1903, sharing the Nobel Prize in physics with her husband, Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel for the discovery of radium and polonium. In 1911, she was the first woman to win the Noble Prize in chemistry, by herself, for the isolation of pure radium. Marie radiates in the green glow of radium. Chien Shiung Wu: Physicist 1912-1997
In 1957, she devised the experiment which disproved the law of conservation of parity-an amazing feat in physics. She was the first woman to receive the Comstock Award from the National Academy of Sciences in 1964. After all this success, she moved into medical research to study sickle cell anemia. Chien dresses up a sickle cell slide. Agnes Pockles: Physicist, Fluid Dynamics 1862-1935
With no more than a public high school education for girls, she pioneered the study of surface film physics. Remarkably, she did this out of her own home, studying with her brother's physics books, while taking care care of her sick parents. The surface balance technique Pockels developed is still used today. Agnes sports a surface tension blouse.