March is recognized in the United States as Women's History month. Commemorative events and individual tributes are widely celebrated online and in local communities (for a sampling of noteworthy entries, see the website of a collaboration of government agencies institutions here). Women's History Month has revealed the past contributions of women to the enterprise of … Continue reading March highlights: Women in STEM
This week, I finished reading The Woman Who Smashed Codes, by Jason Fagone. It chronicles the life and contributions—mostly behind the scenes—of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, arguably one of the most important cryptography specialists working in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. She and her husband William created useful methods and … Continue reading A story about…science?
What does it mean to be a scientist? When children are young, we teach them about the types of people they will encounter in the big world and their own options for their future adult roles. We tell them that scientists are people who ask questions about how the world works and try to find … Continue reading Science from the sidelines: Lessons from jellyfish
I have a healthy respect for radiation. As a fledgling student in genetics in the 1990s, I learned how to use radioactive phosphorus (32P) safely to tag fragments of DNA molecules. When you expose materials containing radioactive DNA to X-ray film, the emitted particles from the phosphorus atoms create dark splotches on the film that … Continue reading “The Radium Girls” and the lasting legacy of Marie Curie
On social media a few years ago, I learned about the engaging project by photographer Brandon Stanton called "Humans of New York." What started as an effort to photograph and interview everyday New Yorkers has expanded into a worldwide project to catalog the human condition in the faces and stories of individual people around the … Continue reading Humans of Earth: Jill Tarter (Summer reading, the final chapter)
Well-meaning people in my life often suggest books they think I would like, or books they feel everyone should read. Perhaps somewhat stubbornly, I rarely take up these suggestions. My reading selections have typically been driven more by whimsy, or by some sense of free will when standing in front of a bookshelf of interesting … Continue reading Summer reading part II: “Lab Girl”