Wonderful Woman – Marie Curie


This is the first post for the series Wonderful Women.

 

It is the season of the Nobels and this year, women have done exceptionally well in catching the nobel prizes. They have got it in Medicine/Physiology, Chemistry, Economics and Literature ie in 4/6 fields. When one thinks of Nobel prizes and one thinks of women, it is hard to miss the person who has done more than anyone else to make the position of women in science respectable. And that is the first woman nobel laureate, the first two-time nobel laureate in two subjects – Marie Curie or Madam Curie.

The biography and other details are chronicled nicely in Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Curie

What I want to observe here is the way she managed to tackle all her obstacles and make them look small even when they were so huge in the times that she lived in. To fight the financial burden, to fight the fight of being a woman and therefore getting rejections by default, to fight the doubts as to her abilities and many other such small but significant things. She did not let anything stand in the way of her love, her curiosity of finding things.

I cannot but imagine how daunting the conditions must have been for her to pursue what she truly loved in a field where women wee not only not encouraged but straight away denied entry. Instead of fighting it out loudly and getting dejected, she found a better way. She did the best job she could do, she did the job better than others could do and thus shut the mouth of her detractors and became the icon for women and other scientists that she is today.

If there is anything one ought to take away from her is the spirit and strength.

Thanks goes to Madam Curie for showing a way to numerous aspiring women scientists who would later join her in the eminent scientist’s club. The one who started it all – we salute you.

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Chaos – James Gleick


Chaos is wonderful wonderful book for all those lovers of nature and its workings. Moreover, it draws on the scientific phenomena which helped scientists reach the present state of chaos. It traces the history and origin of chaos as an interdisciplinary scientific discipline.

The book is rich with glimpses of experiments and thoughts and theories related to chaos. It tells us how the pioneers felt, how the field emerged and how it is being applied to other streams. That all is very interesting but what is most fascinating is the topic itself : CHAOS.

How there is order in chaos. How seemingly random phenomena are not so random. How even most simple of systems are so complex. How and when there are changes from normal to chaotic situations. How beautiful are the Mandelbrot sets. How everything is nothing but a non linear dynamical system and linearity is as far from reality as possible. How dissipation is an agency of order in the dynamical systems. How biology, ecology, physics, chemistry, maths are all but based on the one thing – chaos is systems. It is plain beautiful, specially the pages which are interspersed with the complicated yet orderly in some way drawings of Julia sets and Mandelbrot sets.

The book is filled with mathematical and physical jargon so a familiarity with some of these concepts is necessary for understanding the nature and significance of the discoveries but a reader with even some knowledge can understand the beauty even if not fully as is being described by Gleick. The sheer amount of information that the book contains shows how much research he has done and his efforts are very successful since the book certainly charms and intrigues the reader.

For me personally, it came at the right time to remind me of the beauty of science and the pleasures its pursuit brings. It has once again got me interested in my subject in a way in which I never was. For all maths and physics enthusiasts this is a must read.