Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ada Lovelace and Henrietta Swan Leavitt, of computers and stars

Originally posted by bijoutery.

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), was the first person to write a computer program (calculating Bernoulli numbers) for the Analytical Engine. She wrote about the potential uses of computers and software, even though they had not been invented yet. Ada Lovelace Day is celebrated on the 24th of March by bloggers to promote the achievements of women in science and technology.

The story of Ada Lovelace reminded me of Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868 - 1921). Soon after she finished her bachelor's degree, she was employed at the Harvard College Observatory as a "human computer" of sorts. This was not an unheard of thing for the time, as women in science were often relegated to the "menial" tasks. Specifically her job was to examine the photographic plates taken by the telescope, and measure and catalog the brightness of the stars.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868 - 1921)

While studying the photographic plates, she noticed that some of the brighter variable stars (stars whose apparent brightness as seen from Earth changes over time) appeared to have longer periods. With further study, she confirmed that there was a relationship between the luminosity and period of these stars (called Cepheid variables) and published her findings in the Annals of the Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College. This information proved to be a key for astronomers to be able to measure distances across the universe - this research proved particularly important for Edwin Hubble's work.

Cepheid variables in galaxy M100

Eventually she was made head of stellar photometry, and continued her work off and on while battling illness, until her death in 1921.  She was almost nominated for a Nobel Prize in Physics for her work, but unfortunately died before she could be (the Nobel is not awarded posthumously).  The asteroid 5383 Leavitt and the crater Leavitt on the Moon are named in her honor.

If you would like to learn more about Henrietta Swan Leavitt, you may be interested in the book, Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe

For more info about Ada Lovelace Day, and to read more blog posts celebrating women in science and technology, head over to Ada Lovelace Day homepage

References and photos from:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy Ada Lovelace Day – Wearable Electronics Edition by Polymath

Originally posted by Polymath

Ada Lovelace Day was established last year as an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. If you’re not already familiar with Lady Ada, it’s worth learning more… The daughter of Lord Byron, she worked with Charles Babbage on his analytical engine and wrote the world’s first computer program.

In honor of Lady Ada, I’d like to highlight a handful of the women who inspire me in the world of wearable electronics and soft circuitry.

Leah Buechley

Director of the High-Low Tech research group at the MIT Media Lab, Leah developed the Lilypad Arduino – the microcontroller boards I’ve been using in my own wearable electronics experimentation. It’s a dream of mine to someday be involved with her lab – they come up with incredible, innovative, and beautiful things there!

LED Bracelet - Leah Buechley, 2005

LED Bracelet - Leah Buechley, 2005

Hannah Perner-Wilson

One of the graduate research assistants in Leah Buechley’s lab, Hannah has developed some incredible resources for others interested in wearable electronics, including the reference site HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT (with Mika Satomi) and a bunch of Instructables.

Knit & Crocheted Sensors - Hannah Perner-Wilson, 2009

Knit & Crocheted Sensors - Hannah Perner-Wilson, 2009

Diana Eng

You may recognize Diana’s name from her stint on Project Runway a couple of years ago. She’s still going strong with wearable technology - most recently authoring Fashion Geek and creating Fairytale Fashion, a collection with electronics and shape-changing garments which integrated feedback from the public through her website during the design process. For extra geek points, she also covers ham radio for Make magazine!

Twinkle Dress and EL Wire Dress - Diana Eng, 2010

Twinkle Dress and EL Wire Dress - Diana Eng, 2010

Syuzi Pakhchyan

Syuzi wrote Fashioning Technology, the first book that I picked up on the subject of soft circuitry, and runs a community by the same name. Syuzi is great about encouraging more people to experiment in the field – the Fashioning Tech community is very welcoming, and she regularly shares the projects that members blog about there.

ePuppets - Syuzi Pakhchyan, 2008

ePuppets - Syuzi Pakhchyan, 2008

Alison Lewis

Alison is the founder of SWITCH and author of SwitchCraft. She also teaches at the Parsons School of Design, and brings a more high-fashion perspective to her work. I was incredibly flattered when she recently featured my Skirt Full of Stars on SWITCH.

Rodarte-style Lighted Heels - Alison Lewis, 2010

Rodarte-style Lighted Heels - Alison Lewis, 2010

Becky Stern

Becky may have done more to spread the word of DIY soft circuitry than anyone else. As Associate Editor at MAKE and CRAFT, she frequently shares wearable tech projects and has produced a couple of CRAFT videos about wearables. She also teaches soft circuit workshops (I had to miss the one at Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle last summer because I didn’t have anyone else working my booth), and sells soft circuit starter kits through her company, Sternlab.

Lilypad Embroidery - Becky Stern, 2008

Lilypad Embroidery - Becky Stern, 2008

Lynne Bruning

‘Textile Enchantress’ Lynne makes absolutely stunning garments that frequently involve things like electronics or UV-reactive materials. She has also generously shared quite a few instructables of soft circuitry techniques. I’m particularly fascinated by the work she’s been doing using smart fashion to assist impaired individuals – like this sonar garment for the visually impaired.

Bats Have Feelings Too - Lynne Bruning, 2009

Bats Have Feelings Too - Lynne Bruning, 2009

Angela Sheehan

Creator of the blog Soft Circuit Saturdays, Angela is another maker who has been diving deeply into wearable electronics. I love seeing what another dedicated explorer who is not a professional in the field comes up with!

Temperature Sensing Cup Sleeve - Angela Sheehan, 2009

Temperature Sensing Cup Sleeve - Angela Sheehan, 2009

Interested in seeing more posts honoring women in science and tech? Check out the list of posts over at Finding Ada, or follow the #ald10 tag on twitter.

In celebration of Ada Lovelace by AliciaMae

Originally posted by AliciaMae
Today is Ada Lovelace day. In honor of her achievements as a woman in technology, a global blogging event is celebrating women in science and technology (2nd annual). I am participating as part of The Mad Scientists of Etsy (MSOE).

Whenever the occasion to write a biography or a description of a scientist arises, I am always drawn to the life of Marie Curie. The daughter of a school teacher, she was one of those rare women in the late 1800s - educated and literate. She worked to pay her sister's way through school as her sister had helped her, she took a backseat to her husband Pierre Curie's scientific endeavors until his death, and she raised another Nobel winning woman scientist, Irene Joliet-Curie. Her intelligence and abilities became known after her husband's tragic death, proof that she was his partner and not his assistant. I always marveled at the pictures of early 20th century scientific meetings, Madame Curie sitting at the table among men like Einstein, reading or writing all the while, a stark contrast.

Marie Curie discovered radium and polonium, provided the mobile radiography (X-ray) units for the front during WWI, and died from the radiation produced by her discoveries. She gave her life to investigative endeavors (Her papers and notes from her laboratory are purported to still be too radioactive to be handled).

Though known for chemistry, Marie Curie proceeded her late husband as a Professer of Physics at the Sorbonne in France, a world famous institution at the time - the first woman to do so. She was also the Director of the Curie Laboratory at the University of Paris in the second decade of the 20th century, as well as founding the Radium Institute in collaboration with the Polish government and an award from President Hoover of the United States.

Marie Curie has two Nobel prizes to her name (the first scientist to achieve this, let alone a woman) - sharing one in Physics with her husband in 1903 and being the sole holder of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The Radium Institute has become the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology in Warsaw, Poland, a leading research and treatment center. So her legacy of discovery lives on.

Marie Curie (Maria Sklodowska-Curie) 1867-1934 and beyond

For more pictures and award listings, see those uploaded to her Wikipedia entry

Ada Lovelace Day 2010 Profile: Ursula Franklin

Originally posted by minouette.

[...]Today, in Ada's name, people around the world are blogging about women in science and technology, whose accomplishments have all too often gone unrecognized or unacknowledged.

So I thought I'd tell you about of one my heroes, Ursula Franklin. I've heard her speak on more than one occasion and had the honour meeting Franklin. When I was an undergraduate in physics there were a grand total of zero female physics professors at this University, but Ursula Franklin was trained as a physicist and was working in metallurgy and material science, and had U of T's highest rank, a full University Professor, the first woman named to that post. Further she was not only a strong, fearless, advocate for women in science, but one of the more impressive individuals I've ever met. Her influence as a roll model of women in physics and engineering here cannot be overstated. I thought she was an apt choice to profile as beyond the importance and depth of her own scientific and technological output, she has been an influential writer on the politics and social impact of technology itself.

Franklin was born in Munich in 1921 and survived being interned by the Nazis. She received her PhD in physics from the Technical University of Berlin in 1948 and immigrated to Canada, where after a post-doc at U of T, she joined the faculty. She pioneered archeometry - the use of modern materials analysis in archeology, dating prehistoric artifacts made of metals and ceramics. Her science was always engaged with societal concerns. During the 60s she advocated for the atmospheric nuclear test ban treaty, citing her studies of strontium-90 radioactive fallout found in children's teeth. During the 70s she was part of the Science Council of Canada investigation of how we could better conserve resources and protect nature. She began to develop her ideas about complexities of modern technological society.

She consistently has stood up for her beliefs in peace and social justice. As a member of the Voice of Women (now called Canadian Voice of Women for Peace), she tried to persuade Parliament to disengage Canada from supplying any weapons to the US during the Vietnam war, to shift funding from weapons research to preventative medicin, to withdraw from NATO and disarm. She later fought to allow conscientious objectors to redirect part of their income taxes from military uses to peaceful purposes (though the Supreme Court declined to hear the associated case). She joined other retired female faculty in a class action law suit against the University of Toronto for claiming it had been unjustly enriched by paying women faculty less than comparably qualified men. The University settled in 2002 and acknowledged that there had been gender barriers and pay discrimination.

As an applied scientist, her writtings on technology benefit from the insight of an insider, but her priorities are justice and peace and she critiques and analyses technology in this light. She does not view technology as neutral; it is a comprehensive system that includes methods, procedures, organization, "and most of all, a mindset". It can be work-related or control-related, holistic and prescriptive. Franklin argues that the dominance of prescriptive technologies in modern society discourages critical thinking and promotes "a culture of compliance". She has investigated the relationship between technology and power. She has investigated how we interact with communication technologies and advocated for the right to silence.

Many of her articles and speeches on pacifism, feminism, technology and teaching are collected in The Ursula Franklin Reader (2006). Franklin is one of many respected scholars and thinkers to have delivered a series of Massey Lectures, in 1989. Hers were gathered and published as The Real World of Technology. She has been recognized for her work in many ways, including receiving the Order of Canada, Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case for promoting the equality of girls and women in Canada and the Pearson Medal of Peace for her work in advancing human rights. Locals may know the Ursula Franklin Academy, a Toronto high school, named in her honour. I think this University, city, country and in fact, society at large are a better place because Ursula Franklin is a part of it. So, though she has received this recognition, I think she should be a household name, so that's why she's my choice for Ada Lovelace Day 2010.

{this post includes material from the surprisingly well-documented wikipedia entry on Ursula Franklin}

Ada Lovelace Day by Ulixis

Originally posted by Ulixis

Today is Ada Lovelace day!

WHO? Ada Lovelace is considered to be the world's first computer programmer - she wrote software for Charles Babbage's analytical machine, the first "computer." Unfortunately, the analytical machine was never completed, but her programs would still have worked. In fact, she was one of the first to see computers as more than just adding machines - envisioning that computers could even compose elaborate pieces of music one day.

So what? WHY does that give Ada a whole day to herself? Well... have you ever heard of Ada Lovelace? What about Henrietta Leavitt? Rosalind Franklin?

Probably not.

These women were all scientist & made major contributions to their fields (see above & below) - but did they get any recognition? Does anyone ever learn about them, except in passing reference to their male colleagues? Of course not, they were women!

So today is a day for recognizing women in science: a field where we're often ignored or unacknowledged - where a women's contribution is often attributed to her male colleagues' ideas - or a man's "interpretation" of her work is deemed most important.

We're important too, darn it!

Thankfully, "political correctness" is all the rage now - and gender equality falls within those boundaries. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean women are getting paid the same amount as a man for doing the same job ... but it's getting better. Let's continue the positive trend - spread the word! Today is Ada Lovelace day!

Rosalind Franklin: her x-ray crystallography photographs were what clued Watson & Crick in that DNA was a double-stranded helix. They probably would never have figured out DNA's structure without it.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt: her work on the relationship between periodicity and luminosity of stars forever changed our view of the universe. Her variables allowed Edwin Hubble to measure distances in the universe & discover that other galaxies existed outside of ours (the Milky Way).

All 3 of these women died of cancer (and blood-letting in at least Ada's case) before their work was recognized.

Ada Lovelace Day 2010 MSOE Blog Mash-up

Princess of Parallelograms Today is the second annual international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science, Ada Lovelace Day 2010 (ALD10). I'm sure you'll all recall, Ada, brilliant proto-software engineer, daughter of absentee father, the mad, bad, and dangerous to know, Lord Byron, she was able to describe and conceptualize software for Charles Babbage's computing engine, before the concepts of software, hardware, or even Babbage's own machine existed! She foresaw that computers would be useful for more than mere number-crunching. For this she is rightly recognized as visionary - at least by those of us who know who she was. She figured out how to compute Bernouilli numbers with a Babbage analytical engine. Tragically, she died at only 36. Today, in Ada's name, people around the world are blogging about women in science and technology, whose accomplishments have all too often gone unrecognized or unacknowledged.

Today, the Mad Scientists of Etsy, many of whom are women in science and technology, is hosting our own ALD10 Blog Mash-up. We'll be posting on this topic all day and collating results here. You can find links to individual MSOE blog posts below:

Ada Lovelace Day: Rosalind Franklin & Henrietta Swan Leavitt by Ulixis
Ada Lovelace Day 2010 Profile: Ursula Franklin by minouette
In celebration of Ada Lovelace: Marie Curie by AliciaMae
Happy Ada Lovelace Day – Wearable Electronics Edition by Polymath
Ada Lovelace and Henrietta Swan Leavitt, of computers and stars by bijoutery

Monday, March 8, 2010

There's nothing to get your feather's ruffled about!

Especially not with these entries for the MSOE February challenge theme - feathers!

This month's theme was inspired by the identification of colour of some feathers on dinosaurs and early birds for the first time. The researchers found melanosomes in fossilized feathers, which are "color-bearing organelles buried within the structure of feathers and hair in modern birds and mammals, giving black, grey, and rufous tones such as orange and brown". They also found phaeomelanosomes, which result in rufous and brown colours. By finding these, for the first time we know what some of the colors of dinosaurs were!
Read more about it on Science Daily!

This inspired some wonderful and creative items by our team!

Sweettweelab - Otus the Screech Owl 1950s Ephemera Book Page

Minouette - Block Printed Feather Brooch

CreturFetur - Playful Kea

iWunder - Luxury art yarn moebius cowl

Ulixis - Feathers CARD SET

Jackbear - Penguin Hand Carved Rubber Stamp

AliciaMae - Decorative or small masquerade black feather mask

Scientificculture - Felt Feather Brooch

Tyarkoni - Heart No. 7, Hand Drawn Feathers, Frameable Art Card

Don't forget to vote for your favorite entry on our poll!
Check back next month for our March challenge theme - entomology!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Profile of a Mad Scientist: Ulixis

The Mad Scientists of Etsy present the second the Mad Scientist Profile. Who are these people who both love science and love to create? What does science mean to them? How do they make the things they do? Well, we're going to tell you!

Today, Cretur Fetur interviews Ulixis, followed by the 'Lightening Round'!

Cretur Fetur: You have three successful, often-updated shops, AND are pursuing a Master's in Medical Science. How do you balance it all?

Ulixis: Well, honestly, I don't think I do. Heh… or at least not all of the time (take my neglected sewing shop for example). All I do is try to make a little time for everything each day. I always set aside at least an hour at night to blog & craft, but during the day I'm at work. When I do sit down for a photoshoot, I take pictures of a lot of items all at once - that way I have a bunch of photos & can list new pieces regularly. But most of all, I don’t let it stress me out. I just keep a to-do list in my agenda & make sure I finish everything that NEEDS to be done. Everything else can be worked on slowly, whenever I have time.

Cretur Fetur: How does your affinity for science affect/influence the subjects in your art?

Ulixis: I often gravitate towards themes reflected in nature. I have a huge stash of beads in the shape of flowers, melons, leaves, waves, even beehives. Likewise, floral & foliage patterns on fabric & paper are my favourite. When it comes to making ACEOs & original collages, I’m inspired by nature just as much as mythology, another interest of mine. The MSOE challenges are another way I like to explore merging science & art.

Cretur Fetur: How does your scientific background affect your craft technique?

Ulixis: Attention to detail is an important skill I refined during my undergrad (it’s on my résumé heheh). I find this very useful in beading, wirework, sewing, collages AND notebook making. But I also learned how to improvise & work out solutions to problems – so when I “mess up” I don’t worry about it. I just turn it around & try to see how to improve on the situation. Oddly, dissection is a scientific technique that I’ve applied to paper work. I recently picked up a good, sharp knife for paper cutting, having refined my technique beforehand with a scalpel. But I still turn back to my scissors often since I also use those (in miniature) in dissection. I try to remind myself to rip the paper too – sometimes this is the best way to remove unwanted tissue.

Cretur Fetur: What do you plan to do with your degree?

Ulixis: Oh man, everyone always asks this one. I'm really still not sure at this point, but I'm aiming for professor right now. Still, you never know where your path may take you. Whatever the case, my next step is PhD - I just have to decide on a question.

Cretur Fetur: Tell me a little about your research. What is it you do in the lab on a typical day?

Ulixis: For my Master's research, I'm looking into the link between obesity and asthma. Many obese individuals develop asthma & I'm trying to see if there's a cellular basis for this. So in the lab I work with airway muscle and fat cells - I grow both of these in flasks & use the cells in my experiments. Picture me in a lab coat with gloves on working in a biological safety cabinet (basically a sterile chamber - you have to reach over a vent to work inside, a window covering the front upper half - the vent shoots air upward, keeping the sterile environment inside).

There are 3 different experiments that I run - ones looking at muscle growth, muscle migration & muscle contractility. Right now, I'm having difficulties with the growth experiments... I can't get the cells to grow in the culture plates before I start the experiment. Not sure why... yet. I've found that the fat serum (basically anything the fat cells are producing) increases migration of the muscle cells. To test contractility, I dissect muscle strips from bovine trachea & hang these in small baths. The fat serum seems to relax the muscle contraction.

Besides working on my Master's work, I also have class on Thursdays (a smooth muscle course) & TA a pharmacology lab course on Wednesdays (well, I do from Sept - Jan). For TAing, I teach 3rd year undergraduate students a radioligand binding experiment. Basically, we use a radioactive compound that binds to a certain receptor in prepared membranes - we then test how other compounds can remove the radioactive one from the receptor (by measuring the change in radioactivity in the membranes).

Lightning Round

QuestionCretur FeturUlixis
Which do you prefer: Astronomy or astrology?AstronomyAstronomy
Over land, by sea or by air?By airOver land
Acute or obtuse?AcuteObtuse
Qualitative or quantitative?QualitativeQuantitative
Big picture or tiny detail?Hmm, this is a tough one. It depends.. but I'll go for details.Tiny detail
Name your favourite:
Dábale arroz a la zorra el abad.Kayak
Prime number37
Animal?Spotted hyenaZebra
Plant?Cape sundewMaple tree
Scientific technique?ObservationFluorescence

Ulixis has two other shops: Paper Ulixis and Sew Ulixis. Check out her blog, photo stream, follow ulixis on twitter and check out her website here.

All images curtesy of Ulixis, Paper Ulixis, Sew Ulixis or Ulixis Crafts.

Profile of a Mad Scientist: Cretur Fetur

The Mad Scientists of Etsy are launching a new feature today: the Mad Scientist Profile. Who are these people who both love science and love to create? What does science mean to them? How do they make the things they do? Well, we're going to tell you!

Today, etsy seller Ulixis interviews Cretur Fetur.

Ulixis: What's your science field of choice? Why?

Cretur Fetur: In a very general sense, zoology. Being a little more specific, I'd go for mammalogy and ethology. All my life I've been absolutely fascinated by animals, especially animal behavior. When I was very little, I decided I would be a veterinarian, but quickly backpedaled when I was informed I would have to do a lot of dissection for that. I've always been squeamish when it comes to that sort of thing. Later I heard about ethology, and I pursued that for a while, reading books by Konrad Lorenz and Jane Goodall and stuff on the internet (ah, the young days of the internet), but I abandoned it midway through high school to pursue art instead. I think part of my reasoning for it may have been that I thought art would pay better. HAH!

Ulixis: What was the last thing you learned that you thought was particularly interesting?

Cretur Fetur: There's this jellyfish, Turritopsis dohrnii, that can reset its cells to a younger state. If it's in danger of starvation, or damaged, or feeling old, it'll just age itself backwards all the way back into a polyp colony, the first stage of a jellyfish's life. That colony can then become hundreds of jellyfish genetically identical to the original one. Crazy.

Ulixis: How do you incorporate science into your crafting?

Cretur Fetur: I read about animals pretty often, and I have a particular affinity for animals that not everyone has heard of, or not many people know much about. So what I've done with Cretur Fetur is pick one of these animals per month and put them in the spotlight. I research them as extensively as my resources allow, write everything down, sketch the animal from as many angles as possible to familiarize myself with its shape, then make it into a wool sculpture. I think the sculptural part of the process gives the animal a presence and an approachability that a flat drawing would not accomplish by itself. At the same time, a drawing can show detail and accuracy in a way that my wool sculpting skills can't yet, so I also include a card with a watercolor drawing of the animal, with key parts of my research (by "key" I mean "most exciting") written on the back. So none of the data is wasted, hooray!

Ulixis: What inspires you most when you sit down to create?

Cretur Fetur: I get inspired from two fronts: one is the natural world and how insane and amazing it is, and the other is art and how insane and amazing it is. There's a couple of artists that work with wool whose art I enjoy particularly: Stephanie Metz and Masako Onodera. What I am doing right now is more craft than conceptually robust art, but I'm still getting a kick out of directly translating something from nature into something manmade. I plan to explore the medium more thoroughly soon, and hopefully make bigger, more abstract things. Eventually. Right now I just wanna make a quoll, and find out why grackles congregate in the evenings.

Check out her etsy shop at Cretur Fetur, read about her creative process on her blog here and follow CuriousCreturer on twitter.

Next up: Check the blog soon for the next in this series, when
Cretur Fetur interviews Ulixis - with a bonus 'Lightening Round'

All felted animal photos curtesy of Cretur Fetur. Turritopsis dohrnii photographs via National Geographic, by Stefano Piraino (inset) and Maria Pia Miglietta. Tiger quoll image via wikipedia.


Related Posts with Thumbnails