Twice a semester I teach at a local hospital as part of their Literature & Medicine series. The doctors and the other medical professionals are a great group, generous readers with lots of enthusiasm and an eagerness to discuss ideas.
Last night's readings were taken from an anthology we've used before, from a section called "Scientific Aspirations," and included excerpts from Plutarch's Lives (the portrait of Archimedes), Discourse and Method by Descartes, E.O. Wilson's Naturalist, parts of Feynman's autobiography, and James Watson on his part in the discovery of the double helix and DNA.
"Look at this," I said to Mr. Happy Booker, "Archimedes, Descartes, Wilson, Feynman and Watson—what do you think of this?"
Mr. Happy Booker is also a scientist. He nodded, he said he thought it looked about right and went back to his book.
I nudged him. Hard. "Look again."
The light bulb, the aha moment. Mr. Happy Booker looked up and said, "I guess Marie Curie's people were busy."
Mr. Happy Booker is smart man.
Marie Curie won two Nobel prizes, one jointly with her husband, and then another all by herself. Two Nobel prizes. And yet she was never admitted to the French Academie des Sciences. And don't even get me started on the other women Nobel winners and noted scientists.
In honor of National Women's History Month, I've decided to write a little note to our testosterone-biased anthology editor, to suggest these fine titles:
- Marie Curie : A Life (Radcliffe Biography Series)by Susan Quinn
- A Feeling for the Organism : The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock by Evelyn Fox Keller, W. H. Freeman (Contributor)
- Nobel Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries, by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne
- And a little something special for the kids: Nobel Prize Winners (Women in Profile Series) by Carlotta Hacker
Okay, I am done here. Stepping down off my soap box —I need it for the laundry!
Tune in tomorrow for the usual lit-linkings and more.