comments on my reading list

The New York Times book is driving me a bit buggy. Intriguing introduction by the editor, Richard Flaste, but Flaste doesn’t give dates for each article. He states in his introduction that all articles were published in the “Science Times” section of The New York Times from January 1987 to May 1990, so why not give the date for each entry? Also, the authors are only identified by their initials at the end of each article. Flaste offers a list of contributors with their initials at the start, but if I want to find all the articles by Natalie Angier (NA), I’m out of luck — there’s no entry for Angier in the index and no indication of her name or initials in the table of contents. I know Flaste’s goals is to introduce the reader to the major issues of those years, but I still wanted date and author easily accessible. I like the headings Flaste uses to divide the articles (“The Cosmos Around Us,” “The Search for Origins,” “Understanding Human Behavior,” “The Pursuit of Health,” “Our Troubled Environment,” “The Pursuit of Technology,” and “Curiouser and Curiouser”) and I read a few of the entries — browsed a bit. Not sure I’ll keep reading.

I started Jim Al-Khalili’s The House of Wisdom and will finish that. Introduction weaves contemporary and ancient Iraq with Khalili’s own Iraqi heritage. Fascinating to look at the European Renaissance as a product of Arabic science.

And Sharon Bertsch McGrayne’s Nobel Prize Women in Science has been a good read so far — I’ve read the first part, “First Generation Pioneers,” which includes Marie Sklodowska Curie, Lise Meitner, and Emmy Noether. Noether’s father was a mathematician, and she received lots of support. Curie and Meitner had many more obstacles. For my own curiosity — update on Nobel Prizes in science — Bertsch McGrayne states that from 1901-1993, about 300 men have been Laureates, whereas only 9 women have been awarded. 1901 marked the beginning of the Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine, and 1993 is when Bertsch McGrayne’s book was published. What has happened in the 18 years since?

2010 — no women. At all. Physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, peace, literature, economic sciences. Not one.

2009 – Ada E. Yonath shared in chemistry (“for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome”), Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Carol W. Greider shared in physiology or medicine (“for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase”). Herta Mueller won Literature.

2008 – Francoise Barre-Sinoussi shared in physiology or medicine (“for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus”) — only woman Laureate for this year.

2007 – Nope. (Doris Lessing won literature.)

2006 – None.

2005 – None.

2004 – Linda B. Buck shared in physiology or medicine (“for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system”). Wangari Muta Maathai won Peace and Elfriede Jelinek won Literature. A banner year, eh?

2003 – None for science. Shirin Ebadi won Peace.

2002 – None.

2001 – None.

2000 – None.

1999 – None.

1998 – None.

1997 – No science. Jody Williams shared Peace.

1996 – No science. Wyslawa Szymborska won Literature.

1995 – Christiane Nuesslein-Volhard shared physiology or medicine ( “for their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development”).

1994 – None.

1993 – No science. Toni Morrison won Literature.

So, we’ve added 6 women to the sciences. Since Bertsch McGrayne’s calculation, the number of women laureates in the sciences has almost doubled.


One response to “comments on my reading list

  1. Pingback: seriously blogged up | Class-y Writing

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