Seldom would I shout from the rooftops and recommend a non-fiction book to people. But Rachel Swaby writes an excellent piece that every boy, girl, man and woman should read. The book is divided into 52 biographies of women who had a strong influence on science. The influence was so strong that it influenced much of the world we know today and without their accomplishments it would be a much different place. Swaby writes in a conversational tone that is easy to follow. My goal is to read one biography to my children every week. This will allow them to finish the book in a year and give us the rest of the week to delve into any extra research we want to explore.
A common thread throughout the book is that women can do anything. The women in the book are full of drive, full of wanting to learn new things, full of passion, full of patience and full of persistence. Several names I did recognize in the book are: Rachel Carson, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Irene Joliet-Curie, Sally Ride, Florence Nightingale, Maria Mitchell and Hedy Lamarr. But many of the women made huge waves in science that I had never heard of before. This sampling was great for reading on the go and made me want to read more about many of these women and their circumstances. It is a book about science, but it is not too technical. The book is about women, but it is not too preachy.
A brilliant rocket scientist who died two years ago, Yvonne Brill “was told by her physics teacher that women couldn’t amount to anything. At the University of Manitoba she was told that the engineering department wouldn’t admit women.” Years later… “Her electrothermal hyrdrazine thruster was still used in satellites when she died in 2013.” Yet discovering a more fuel-efficient chemical propulsion thruster was not a highlight of her career according to the writer of her obituary. “She made a mean beef stroganoff…” began the obituary and began this writer’s quest for discovering and writing about more females in science that made earth-moving discoveries. Lively, entertaining and inspiring piece of non-fiction that I really enjoyed reading.
Some women I had found interesting are:
Like most moms, I had read about the APGAR score given to children at birth. Assuming it was developed by a OB-GYN or pediatrician, I never gave it any thought. This book tells the story of Virginia Apgar who was a anesthesiologist that transformed how children were born throughout the United States and the world.
Elsie Widdowson began studying “dietetics” in 1933. We know the field of study as Nutrition today. With Robert McCance, they wrote “The Chemical Composition of Foods” with nutritional information of over 15,000 values. This included cooked and raw food.
Ruth Benerito is the reason we still wear cotton today. Back in the 1960’s, cotton production plummeted as a result of synthetic fabrics. Ruth discovered a wrinkle-free cotton. This also led to the discovery of flame retardant and stain resistant fabrics.
The most appalling biography perhaps is the one of Lise Meitner. She experimented and explained that when uranium was split it broke into halves of different proportions. She had created nuclear fission. Unfortunately, her colleague Otto Hahn was the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1944 and no mention of Lise Meitner appeared.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Recipe: Ice Cream Season is upon us. For the last day of school, we had a little ice cream party for the kids to celebrate. I had made my favorite brownies and these cute little ice cream cones to go with the ice cream. (BTW, I discovered the secret to the shiny crust in homemade brownies? It’s the melted chocolate chips! No kidding. Whowudda thought?)
Anyway, the kids had a blast making AND eating these. So simple, easy and cute. For graduation, you could use school colors for sprinkles. Around the 4th of July, you could use red, white and blue sprinkles. We used milk chocolate for dipping, but you could use white chocolate or dark chocolate or even peanut butter chips and chocolate jimmies!
- 6 sugar ice cream cones
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, canola oil or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup sprinkles in a shallow dish
- Lay out a large sheet of wax paper and sugar cones.
- In a microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and oil in 30 second intervals. Stir until melted. Stop heating once most, but not all, of the chocolate chips are melted. The remaining few should start to melt. (This will help prevent seizing or burning)
- Dip the sugar cones into the melted chocolate. Twirl off the excess chocolate.
- Dip the cones into the sprinkles.
- Stand cones upside down (sprinkle side down) on the wax paper.
- Dry for about 1-2 hours, or until the chocolate is solid. Store in an air-tight bag.