Friday, September 24, 2010

She does not emphasize that she's coming from the place of having a broken heart, but she does state that that is where she's coming from

People can and do fall in love with the math-heavy sciences--with their beauty and complexity, the power of the way they explain what's happening. Margaret Wertheim did. As she learned more about the math-based sciences, she noticed that women, people like her, were harshly excluded through most of their history.

She wrote "Pythagoreas' Trousers," a history of math-based sciences with an emphasis on women getting crushed and excluded as the history of math-based sciences unfolded.

She can be light about it--after all, Pythagoras, the triangle guy, he of the Phythagorean theorem, lived before trousers were a-happening, but he was definitely a guy.

"Lonely Hearts of the Universe" by Dennis Overbye is about the personal side of the cosmological search of the twentieth century. What were these guys like, wonders Overbye. He notes a couple of times that women were not allowed to be part of the group that used the breakthrough making telescopes in Southern California, at Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories.

He just says it, and there it is. I stop and wonder about the women born to wonder about stars who couldn't get in all those decades in Southern California and before that all those centuries around the world.

Bread and roses and telescopes. And engineering problems.

When I met her, she was a falling apart, respectable drunk, her face melting, her house in a nice neighborhood near with the Sausalito shipyard had been in World War II. She had worked there. After a while, she was essentially an on-the-spot engineer, solving problems as they arose. She loved it, heart and smarts together.

And after World War II that door closed hard. No way could she go on with engineering; jobs like that were for guys. All things did conspire against someone like her going on with engineering.

OK--a drunk cannot use something like that as an excuse for the slow suicide plan. But I can look at that life and say this isn't how society should be. She knew she could do it and much more because she'd done it. Society said, "So what?"