ladymercury_10: (Molly)
[personal profile] ladymercury_10
It is time again for that most splendid of holidays, Ada Lovelace Day!  Once a year, bloggers around the world gather to sing the praises of inspiring women in the STEM fields.  And if you are a lady-identified person in science, technology, engineering, or math, I most cordially salute you.  

I wasn't sure for a while whom or what to write about this year.  And then I thought, can we just talk for a minute about how awesome Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie is?  Because I know everyone has heard of her, and I know in many ways she's become not just the token lady scientist, but the token scientist, and the token chemist, and the token lots of other things.  Which in some ways is a tribute to just how amazing she was, that she as a woman scientist managed to become to many people the face of chemistry, but in other ways it makes what we know of her just a rehearsal of the facts and not really a story.

Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie is my hero for so many reasons.  She and her husband Pierre were partners not just in love but in science, which is so cool to me.  After he died, she was a single career mom before that was even really a thing.  She raised two daughters who grew up to be amazing in their own right, one of whom (Irène) went on to win her own Nobel Prize.  Marie was the first woman to win the Nobel, and she is still the only woman to win in two fields and the only person to win in two different sciences (those being physics and chemistry).  She founded two medical research institutes that remain prominent today, developed a theory of radioactivity, discovered two elements, and was the first female professor at the the Sorbonne.

It all sounds really abstract if you don't know much chemistry or physics--and I sure don't--but just think about the things we might not have without her.  Radiation therapy for cancer?  No.  Nuclear power?  Not likely.  Radiometric dating?  Nope.  PET scans at the hospital?  How?  And that barely scratches the surface.  It's one thing to say someone was a genius, and it's another to look at modern life and realize you wouldn't recognize it without her.  

If you'd like to know more about her, Lauren Redniss has a really neat book called Radioactive about Marie and Pierre, their life and loves, and their work and legacy.  It's kind of a biography and kind of an art book and kind of a graphic novel, with history and science wrapped up in there, too.   Or you could just check Wikipedia.  I spent some time over there while I was writing this.  

And I know I posted it last year, but come on, it's Kate Beaton, and it never gets old (I have the shirt of it, and I am wearing it right now, haha), so I will leave you with this: Is it love or toxic radiation?

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