Dale DeBakcsy

About Dale DeBakcsy

Dale DeBakcsy is the writer and artist of the Women In Science and Cartoon History of Humanism columns, and has, since 2007, co-written the webcomic Frederick the Great: A Most Lamentable Comedy with Geoffrey Schaeffer. He is also a regular contributor to The Freethinker, Philosophy Now, Free Inquiry, and Skeptical Inquirer. He studied intellectual history at Stanford and UC Berkeley before becoming a teacher of mathematics and drawer of historical frippery.

Margaret Sanger and the Creation of the Pill

April 26, 2017 by

In 1912, it was against the law to publish a book that contained descriptions of birth control methods. It was against the law to even expound the theoretical benefits of birth control as a general notion. It was against the law to put a contraceptive diaphragm into the hands of a desperate mother of twelve in an attempt to save her life from serial pregnancy. It was against the law to give a woman a ... [Read More]

Dame Stephanie Shirley and the World’s First All-Woman Software Company

April 19, 2017 by

6 pounds.  That was the starting capital of Freelance Programmers when Stephanie Shirley founded it in 1962 with the mission of creating software by utilizing the neglected brainpower of England's programming-savvy mothers.  It was a mad idea on so very many levels. At the time, independent software companies simply didn't exist. ... [Read More]

First: The Astrophysics and Astronautics of Dr. Sally Ride (1951-2012)

April 12, 2017 by

Heroes are supposed to be monodimensional, startling and exceptional in one narrow aspect of life and a complex, barely functioning mess when it comes to everything else. It makes us comfortable as normal humans - "Well, I might not have written Der Ring des Nibelungen, but at least I'm not a serial adulterer anti-semite who can't not wear silk."    And then there's Dr. Sally Ride (1951-2012), ... [Read More]

The Tragedy Of Primatologist Dian Fossey (1932-1985)

April 5, 2017 by

There are people to whom it is given to wait alone on humanity's dark edge and stand against all the worst of our collective impulses:  our greed, our indifference, our manic need for glory, our revelry in the conquering of the unfortunate and powerless, everything that civilization struggles daily to put in a sealed box so that it won't disturb our smooth routine of eating snacks and entertaining ... [Read More]

“Out Of School And Into Nature” Picture Book Celebrates The Life And Career Of Naturalist Anna Comstock

April 3, 2017 by

What makes a child want to become a scientist? I get asked that question rather a lot when I talk about Women in Science, by anxious parents and grandparents who want to make sure they aren't somehow stifling the next Jane Goodall by ... [Read More]

Mother of the Telephone, Grandmother of Flight: Mabel Hubbard Bell (1857-1923)

March 29, 2017 by

We have been living without the menace of Scarlet Fever for a solid century now, and in that time it has devolved from a creature of visceral terror that, at its height, killed thirty percent of the children it struck, to a bit of colorful but somehow unreal nostalgia buzzing about the edges of ... [Read More]

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, Lady Gaga of 17th Century Science

March 15, 2017 by

1653. A noble lady of reduced means is fretting away in a ramshackle apartment that is the best she can manage in light of the times. Her husband, the gallant, horse-mad Duke of Newcastle, is in exile on the continent as a Royalist, and is depending on her to raise funds in England to keep his creditors fed. ... [Read More]

Hydrogen Rules: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979) and the Composition of Stars

March 8, 2017 by

“You are young, and wrong. You must retract.” When fresh-faced zeal confronts experience, it usually loses. Scientists who think they’ve solved everything on day one usually find that they’ve merely wandered into a seductive semblance of a solution, the first of many in the years to come, ... [Read More]