Born on this day (07/06/1907): Frida Kahlo.
“Thinking About Death”, 1907.
Sophie Germain (1776-1831)
Art by Caitlin (tumblr, etsy, facebook)
A largely self-taught mathematician and physicist, Sophie was a pioneer of elasticity theory who also developed several novel approaches to Fermat’s Last Theorem. Although both her gender and the French Revolution limited her formal education, Sophie corresponded with noted scientists such as Joseph-Louis Lagrange, Adrien-Marie Legendre, and Carl Friedrich Gauss. A bold thinker, she was the only person to enter a contest sponsored by the Paris Academy of Sciences to find the applied mathematical theory behind the vibrations of an elastic surface. Her work on this subject influences the construction of skyscrapers today. Yet despite these accomplishments, she received almost no acclaim during her lifetime.
In 1913, historian H.J. Mozans wrote:
All things considered, she was probably the most profoundly intellectual woman that France has ever produced. And yet, strange as it may seem, when the state official came to make out her death certificate, he designated her as a “rentière-annuitant” (a single woman with no profession)—not as a “mathématicienne.” Nor is this all. When the Eiffel Tower was erected, there was inscribed on this lofty structure the names of seventy-two savants. But one will not find in this list the name of that daughter of genius, whose researches contributed so much toward establishing the theory of the elasticity of metals—Sophie Germain. Was she excluded from this list for the same reason she was ineligible for membership in the French Academy—because she was a woman? If such, indeed, was the case, more is the shame for those who were responsible for such ingratitude toward one who had deserved so well of science, and who by her achievements had won an enviable place in the hall of fame. (Quote via Nova)
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