Friday, June 12, 2015

A peak into Headstrong by Rachel Swaby

I almost missed today's Book Beginnings on Friday, hosted by Rose City Reader.  We have been out laying concrete for a garage.  My back is killing me. Anyhow... this is kinda neat and I missed a few non-fiction entries lately ... 

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby

I have to start with a bit from the Introduction ...
This book about scientists began with Beef Stroganoff. According to the New York Times, Yvonne Brill made a mean one. In an obituary published in March 2013, Brill was honored with the title of "world's best mom" because she "followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children." Only after a loud, public outcry did the Times amend the article so it would begin with the contribution that earned Brill a featured spot in the paper of record in the first place: "She was a brilliant rocket scientist." Oh right. That.

Yes - it says 2013 not 1953. Un-friggin-believable. The Times change the obituary but they did it without adding any sort of acknowledgement that they messed up in the first place.

It now says ...

She was a brilliant rocket scientist who followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. “The world’s best mom,” her son Matthew said.

Sheesh - #*$%& clueless!

And from page 57 (page 56 is the very end of the entry for Mary Anning) for The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice ......

Ellen Swallow Richards 1842–1911 Chemistry•American

Before 1887, water quality standards in Massachusetts did not exist. Modern, city-run water treatment plants? Those weren't around, either. So on the contaminated drinking water roulette wheel, to take a sip of water in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the late nineteenth century was to consume either industrial waste or municipal sewage. To push the area's drinking water to a safer state, Ellen Swallow Richards, an instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's newly founded laboratory of sanitary chemistry, supervised the collection and analysis of some twenty thousand water samples. Her experimental design both set the standard for similar studies and gave Richards a foundation to make assumptions about both the area's water quality and larger global drinking water conditions. Not a bad contribution from the first person in the United States to be both a professional chemist and a woman at the same time. 

The whole book consists of really short (just a few pages) introduction to women who made significant contributions in a wide range of fields.  Neat stuff!

Happy Weekend!


  1. Sounds fascinating!
    Happy weekend!

  2. This sounds like an amazing book. I'll get a copy for my granddaughter.
    My Friday post features Widow’s Tears.


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