Tilly Edinger vs. the Nazis. | Letters from Gondwana.

“Tilly” Edinger was born on November 13, 1897, in Frankfurt, Germany. She was the youngest daughter of the eminent neurologist Ludwig Edinger and Dora Goldschmidt, a leading social advocate and acti…

Source: Tilly Edinger vs. the Nazis. | Letters from Gondwana.

The legacy of Ernst Haeckel | Letters from Gondwana.

Ernst Haeckel and his assistant Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay, photographed in the Canary Islands in 1866. From Wikimedia Commons.

Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel was born on February 16, 1834, in Potsdam, Prussia. He wanted to be a botanist and his hero was Alexander Humboldt, but his father, a lawyer and government of…

Source: The legacy of Ernst Haeckel | Letters from Gondwana.

Forgotten women of Paleontology: Emily Dix | Letters from Gondwana.

Dr Emily Dix and her assistant Miss Elsie White.

In the 18th and 19th centuries women’s access to science was limited, and science was usually a ‘hobby’ for intelligent wealthy women. It was common for male scientists to have women assista…

Source: Forgotten women of Paleontology: Emily Dix | Letters from Gondwana.

Mary Anning and the flying dragon. | Letters from Gondwana.

The holotype specimen of Dimorphodon macronyx found by Mary Anning in 1828 (From Wikimedia Commons)

The nineteen century was the “golden age” of Geology. The Industrial Revolution ushered a period of canal digging and major quarrying operations for building stone. These activities exposed sedimen…

Source: Mary Anning and the flying dragon. | Letters from Gondwana.

Dorothea Bate: cave explorer and paleontologist. | Letters from Gondwana.

Dorothea Bate excavating in Bethlehem 1935.

During the 18th and 19th centuries women’s access to science was limited, and science was usually a ‘hobby’ for intelligent wealthy women. A good example is Barbara Hastings (1810–1858), 20th Baron…

Source: Dorothea Bate: cave explorer and paleontologist. | Letters from Gondwana.

Forgotten women of Paleontology: Erika von Hoyningen-Huene | Letters from Gondwana.

Erika von Huene at the Tuebingen University.

Erika Martha von Hoyningen-Huene was born in Tübingen, Germany, on September 30, 1905.  Descendant of a noble Baltic German family, Erika grew up in a deeply religious home. Her father,  Professor …

Source: Forgotten women of Paleontology: Erika von Hoyningen-Huene | Letters from Gondwana.

Once upon a time, there was a Dodo. | Letters from Gondwana.

Painting of the Dodo by Roelandt Savery executed in ca. 1626 and held at the NHMUK, London.

The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus Linnaeus, 1758) a giant, flightless pigeon endemic to the Mascarene island of Mauritius, became extinct just three centuries ago. As one of the earliest species to be id…

Source: Once upon a time, there was a Dodo. | Letters from Gondwana.

Annie Montague Alexander, Naturalist and Fossil Hunter. | Letters from Gondwana.

Originally posted on Letters from Gondwana.
Annie Montague Alexander was born on December 29, 1867, in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was the oldest daughter of Samuel Thomas Alexander and Martha Cooke. Both of her parents were the children of missionaries from New England who had come to the Hawaiian Archipelago in 1832. Her father pioneered in the raising of sugar cane on Maui, and founder of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., one of the biggest companies in Hawaii.

Annie was educated at home by a governess until age fourteen, when she attended Punahou School in Honolulu for one year. In 1882, she moved with her family to Oakland, California. In the fall of 1887, she attended the Lasell Seminary for Young Women, a junior college in Auburndale, Massachusetts. At Lasell, she would join a close childhood friend from Maui, Mary Beckwith. During the two years she spent there she not enrolled in any science classes but studied nineteenth-century history, political economy, civil government, German, French, logic, dress cutting, and photography. Shortly after, she started to study painting in Paris. Unfortunately she began to suffer severe headaches after long hours at the easel and was warned of the possibility of blindness. Later, she enrolled in a training program for…

Source: Annie Montague Alexander, Naturalist and Fossil Hunter. | Letters from Gondwana.

Remembering Mary Anning.

Letters from Gondwana.

BECHE_Mary_Annings Sketch of Mary Anning by Henry De la Beche. From Wikimedia Commons.

Mary Anning, ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew’, died of breast cancer on 9 March, 1847, at the age of 47. She was buried in the cemetery of St. Michaels. In the last decade of her life, Mary received  three accolades. The first was an annuity of £25, in return for her many contributions to the science of geology. The second was in 1846, when the geologists of the Geological Society of London organized a further subscription for her. The third accolade was her election, in July 1846, as the first Honorary Member of the new Dorset County Museum in Dorchester (Torrens, 1995). After her death, Henry de la Beche, Director of the Geological Survey and President of the Geological Society of London, wrote a very affectionate obituary published in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society on February…

View original post 512 more words

The History Girls: ‘Sister of the more famous William’: some reflections on the life and career of Caroline Herschel by Christina Koning

With comets very much in the news these past few days, following the spectacular success of the Rosetta mission, I’m been thinking some more about Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), the first professional female astronomer, and the subject of my 2011 novel, Variable Stars. Between 1786 and 1797, Herschel discovered eight comets – one of which (35P/Herschel-Rigollet) bears her name. There is also an asteroid (281 Lucretia) named after her, as well as a crater on the Moon (C. Herschel). During her long life – she lived to be 97 – she was also responsible for cataloguing over 2,500 nebulae, an achievement for which she was awarded not one, but two, gold medals. She fraternised with the most eminent astronomers of the age, and was described by one of them, the German astronomer Karl Felix Seyffer, as the ‘most noble and worthy priestess of the new heavens’. She was, in a word, something of a superstar.

With so starry a C.V., it may seem surprising that Caroline Herschel is not better known, but in spite of her achievements, she remains a relatively obscure figure. The reason for this is not hard to find. For, remarkable as it was, Caroline Herschel’s life has been largely overshadowed by that of her brother, William – discoverer, in 1781, of the planet Uranus. As William Herschel’s assistant and amanuensis, Caroline might also be said to have contributed to this discovery, and to others that followed, such as the discovery of infra-red radiation. However, the fact remains that, when her existence is acknowledged at all, she is often dismissed as no more than a…

via The History Girls: ‘Sister of the more famous William’: some reflections on the life and career of Caroline Herschel by Christina Koning.

Ten Terrifying Knives from Medical History

I’m not particularly keen on the cataract knife as I’m waiting for an operation. Mind you, I believe things have changed a little in the last 100 years or so!

The Chirurgeon's Apprentice

I’m excited to announce that I’ve just finished filming the first episode of my new YouTube series, Under The Knife, and will be releasing it very soon (please subscribe to my channel for video updates). Unsurprisingly, that got me thinking about, well, knives. Here’s a list of some rather terrifying knives from our medical past.

  1. VALENTIN KNIFE, 1838. This knife was one of the few able to cut slices of organs and soft tissues for microscopic examination. The double-bladed knife worked best when the blades were wet – best of all when submerged in water. Named after its inventor, Professor Gabriel Valentin (1810-1883), a German-Swiss physiologist, the knife was invented in 1838. This example, however, dates from 1890.
  2. BISTOURY CACHÉ, c.1850. Invented in the mid-19th century, bistoury caché literally translates from the French as ‘hidden knife’. The device was used to cut internal organs or…

View original post 535 more words