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I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science

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I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the vein of A Beautiful Mind, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, and Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA, this volume tells the poignant story of the brilliant, colorful, controversial mathematician named Dorothy Wrinch.

Drawing on her own personal and professional relationship with Wrinch and archives in the United States, Canada, and England, Marjorie Senechal explores the life and work of this provocative, scintillating mind. Senechal portrays a woman who was learned, restless, imperious, exacting, critical, witty, and kind. A young disciple of Bertrand Russell while at Cambridge, the first women to receive a doctor of science degree from Oxford University, Wrinch's contributions to mathematical physics, philosophy, probability theory, genetics, protein structure, and crystallography were anything but inconsequential. But Wrinch, a complicated and ultimately tragic figure, is remembered today for her much publicized feud with Linus Pauling over the molecular architecture of proteins. Pauling ultimately won that bitter battle. Yet, Senechal reminds us, some of the giants of mid-century science--including Niels Bohr, Irving Langmuir, D'Arcy Thompson, Harold Urey, and David Harker--took Wrinch's side in the feud. What accounts for her vast if now-forgotten influence? What did these renowned thinkers, in such different fields, hope her model might explain?

Senechal presents a sympathetic portrait of the life and work of a luminous but tragically flawed character. At the same time, she illuminates the subtler prejudices Wrinch faced as a feisty woman, profound culture clashes between scientific disciplines, ever-changing notions of symmetry and pattern in science, and the puzzling roles of beauty and truth.

Review:

"Senechal (The Mathematical Intelligencer, co-editor), professor emerita at Smith College, draws from scholarly archives and her own experience working with Wrinch to draw a portrait of this complicated, intriguing, and frequently overlooked polymath. Born in Argentina in 1894 to English parents, Wrinch and her family returned to England, where the burgeoning scholar struggled to overcome numerous roadblocks faced by women in academia. Senechal explores how Wrinch's curiosity prompted her to tackle problems in many fields — from probability theory and morphology to topology, biology, and biochemistry — which, while intellectually enriching, added to her professional troubles. Wrinch's success was also hampered in other ways: noted chemist Linus Pauling lambasted her groundbreaking 'model of protein architecture,' and her bizarre personality was off-putting to many. Taken together, these were enough to relegate Wrinch to 'a footnote in the history of science.' Readers with no background in the sciences may have trouble following some of Senechal's discussions, but those who persevere will discover a 'scary smart' scientist, mother, teacher, and feminist whose 'life was her work, her work her life.' Photos & illus. Agent: Regula Nötzli." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Marjorie Senechal is the Louise Wolff Kahn Professor Emerita in Mathematics and History of Science and Technology, Smith College, and Co-Editor of The Mathematical Intelligencer.

Table of Contents

not yet available

Product Details

ISBN:
9780199732593
Author:
Senechal, Marjorie
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Subject:
History
Subject:
History, Other | History of Science
Subject:
History of Science-General
Subject:
Biography-Scientists
Publication Date:
20121231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
10bandw
Pages:
312
Dimensions:
6.4 x 9.3 x 0.9 in 1.15 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Science and Technology
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Reference » Science Reference » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Biographies and Classics

I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science Sale Hardcover
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$12.98 In Stock
Product details 312 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780199732593 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Senechal (The Mathematical Intelligencer, co-editor), professor emerita at Smith College, draws from scholarly archives and her own experience working with Wrinch to draw a portrait of this complicated, intriguing, and frequently overlooked polymath. Born in Argentina in 1894 to English parents, Wrinch and her family returned to England, where the burgeoning scholar struggled to overcome numerous roadblocks faced by women in academia. Senechal explores how Wrinch's curiosity prompted her to tackle problems in many fields — from probability theory and morphology to topology, biology, and biochemistry — which, while intellectually enriching, added to her professional troubles. Wrinch's success was also hampered in other ways: noted chemist Linus Pauling lambasted her groundbreaking 'model of protein architecture,' and her bizarre personality was off-putting to many. Taken together, these were enough to relegate Wrinch to 'a footnote in the history of science.' Readers with no background in the sciences may have trouble following some of Senechal's discussions, but those who persevere will discover a 'scary smart' scientist, mother, teacher, and feminist whose 'life was her work, her work her life.' Photos & illus. Agent: Regula Nötzli." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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