Mathematician Emmy Noether (1882-1935) Solves the Universe

March 22, 2017 by

“Momentum is always conserved, except when it isn’t.”  In high school physics, we learn all manner of conservation laws, one at a time, when they accidentally happen to pop up, without so much as a word of explanation for WHY nature seems to care so much about these quantities. We’ve asked, of course, only to have our knuckles rapped ... [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]

The Strangers Within: Biologist Lynn Margulis and the Rebirth of Endosymbiosis

March 5, 2017 by

In terms of cell count, ninety percent of you isn't you at all. Bacteria, though by mass they only make up about two percent of a human being, account for nine out of every ten cells inside you. Some of them are beneficial, like the bacteria in your digestive system that help break down carbohydrates. Others, less so, like the mouth bacteria ... [Read More]

Space Biomedical Engineer Mamta Patel Nagaraja, the Woman Behind [email protected]

March 1, 2017 by

When it comes finally time to settle Mars, the most terrifying sound might not be *RRRIP* or "I'm sorry, Dave, I don't WANT to turn the carbon dioxide scrubbers back on." It might well be *SNAP*. That is, if we can't figure out solutions to some of the issues astronauts face in long-term space flight. ... [Read More]

The Mathematical Adventures of Maryam Mirzakhani

February 22, 2017 by

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 proved to my grandson that – though it was impossible to see the inside of the square ... [Read More]

Queen of Carbon: The Materials Science Legacy Of Mildred Dresselhaus (1930-2017)

February 21, 2017 by

Carbon. Its astounding versatility is matched only by our total and historic complacency in the face of its wonders. “Carbon?  Whatever – it’s, like, all over the place. Now, protactinium, there’s an element…” Working on the logic that exotic elements must breed exotic properties, and intoxicated by ... [Read More]

Jeanne Altmann, Baboon Moms, and the Justice League of Primatology

February 15, 2017 by

It is a long standing saying* that the pantheon of primatology is essentially the Justice League of America, with Jane Goodall as Superman, the inspiring and morally upright founding figure, Dian Fossey as Batman, the earnest champion grappling with dark forces, and Birute Galdikas as Wonder Woman, steady and indestructible. ... [Read More]