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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Few Women of Science...


Sadly, two years ago today, Sally Ride left us at the all-too-young age of 61. I wrote a brief bit about her one week ago.  Her organization for young people, "Sally Ride Science" is here. Lynn Sherr's biography of her came out a little over a month ago. And here's a 1984 PBS Nova clip of Sally as the inspiring, professional, enthusiastic scientist she was:




Meanwhile, this week, Jim Al-Khalili's last seasonal BBC broadcast of "The Life Scientific" (which gets rave reviews) was with distinguished chemist Carol Robinson, about her struggles toward success and recognition as a female in science:

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/tls/tls_20140722-0930a.mp3

Boys are often encouraged, or even pushed, towards science careers, while girls frequently have similar innate interests discouraged or even blocked.  A couple of viral ads from a month ago addressed that issue, and warrant repeated viewing... though I can only do so with my semi-cynical post from a month ago on the mixture of corporatism and message:

http://math-frolic.blogspot.com/2014/06/diversion.html

One quick side-note, speaking of daring, independent-minded women, tomorrow marks the birthday anniversary of trailblazing American aviator Amelia Earhart.

What attracts me to these women is not just their abilities, but their courage and determination… especially the courage of their convictions, regardless of societal bounds or expectations, seeking, in a sense, as Thoreau once exhorted, "to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life."

I'll end this by returning full circle to the U.S. Space Program... and John Denver's tribute to the seven astronauts who perished aboard Shuttle Challenger 28 years ago, including the first teacher in space, 37-year-old Christa McAuliffe, a role model for countless young people at the time (an additional female astronaut on the doomed crew was Judy Resnik):



Sally Ride served famously and admirably (alongside Richard Feynman) on the Presidential commission that investigated the Challenger disaster and found decision-making flaws in NASA's organization hierarchy.
I'm not a Ronald Reagan fan, but I'll close out with his famous words to a grieving nation 28½ years ago:
"We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, and 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"


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