Ada Lovelace Day: Dignifying Science

I’d completely forgotten about today because I’ve spent the last couple of weeks (and all of today) deep in the code involved in the current sprint at work. Which is to say, I’d forgotten about Ada Lovelace because I’m deep in the middle of what she would have loved to work on today. (And today was one of those rare days without meetings, too!)

But I do have a great comic to recommend to everybody: Dignifying Science: Stories About Women Scientists.

This is a collection of tales about some of the most important female figures in science. Too often, they aren’t covered by textbooks, except maybe for Madame Curie. Even Ada Lovelace was written out of my introductory computer science textbook, and that was (a) in the 90s and (b) in college.

So when I ran across this collection of stories in comic form, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about these women. The stories are told quite well, in the style of the previous book, Two-Fisted Science: Stories About Richard Feynman Physicists Scientists, with each story (written by Jim Ottaviani) drawn by a different artist. Actually, there’s more variety in Dignifying Science, because Two-Fisted Science was almost half Richard Feynman stories and just about all about physicists (and a little bit about mathematicians).

The women in Dignifying Science:

  • Hedy Lamarr, who is far more famous for her kiss than her patents. Yes. Real patents, back in the days when patents actually meant something. Most unhappy story of the lot. (Artist: Carla Speed McNeil)

  • Lise Meitner, a contemporary and actual colleague of Niels Bohr. (Artist: Jen Sorensen)

  • Rosalind Franklin, one of the three-way ties to discovering the structure of DNA, and virtually unrecognized as such. Her story is the longest in the book. (Artists: Stephanie Gladden, Donna Barr, Roberta Gregory, Linda Medey)

  • Barbara McClintock, biologist (YAY BIOLOGY) who discovered “jumping genes” and who also is just awesome. (Artist: Lea Hernandez)

  • Biruté Galdikas, biologist (YAY BIOLOGY AGAIN) who studied orangutans in the wild—and longer than anyone else has. (Artist: Anne Timmons)

  • Marie Curie, you all know who she is. I hope. Her story bookends the collection, as prologue and epilogue. (Artist: Marie Severin)

Front cover by Ramona Fradon, back cover by Mary Fleener. And yes, all mathematicians look like that inside their heads (computer scientists only a little, because we’re quite more related to mathematicians rather than physicists or engineers).

There are plenty of notes in the back for extra context on a panel-by-panel basis as well, and they’re actually interesting reading that supplement the comics well.

I strongly recommend this comic on any day, and especially on Ada Lovelace Day.

Available from: Amazon.comBarnes & NoblePowell’s