Topic: Women's History
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Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron; 10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is sometimes regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of a "computing machine" and one of the first computer programmers.
Augusta Byron was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron and his wife Lady Byron. All of Byron's other children were born out of wedlock to other women. Byron separated from his wife a month after Ada was born and left England forever four months later. He commemorated the parting in a poem that begins, "Is thy face like thy mother's my fair child! ADA! sole daughter of my house and heart?". He died of disease in the Greek War of Independence when Ada was eight years old. Her mother remained bitter and promoted Ada's interest in mathematics and logic in an effort to prevent her from developing her father's perceived insanity. Despite this, Ada remained interested in Byron, naming her two sons Byron and Gordon. Upon her eventual death, she was buried next to him at her request. Although often ill in her childhood, Ada pursued her studies assiduously. She married William King in 1835. King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838, Ada thereby becoming Countess of Lovelace.
Her educational and social exploits brought her into contact with scientists such as Andrew Crosse, Charles Babbage, Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Michael Faraday and the author Charles Dickens, contacts which she used to further her education. Ada described her approach as "poetical science" and herself as an "Analyst (& Metaphysician)".
When she was a teenager, her mathematical talents led her to a long working relationship and friendship with fellow British mathematician Charles Babbage, who is known as "the father of computers". She was in particular interested in Babbage's work on the Analytical Engine. Lovelace first met him in June 1833, through their mutual friend, and her private tutor, Mary Somerville.
Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea on the calculating engine, supplementing it with an elaborate set of notes, simply called Notes. These notes contain what many consider to be the first computer program—that is, an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. Other historians reject this perspective and point out that Babbage's personal notes from the years 1836/1837 contain the first programs for the engine. Lovelace's notes are important in the early history of computers. She also developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching, while many others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those capabilities. Her mindset of "poetical science" led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine (as shown in her notes) examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.
She died of uterine cancer in 1852 at the age of 36.
- "Ada Lovelace" | 2012-12-10 | 39 Upvotes 4 Comments
Agent 355 (died after 1780) was the code name of a female spy during the American Revolution, part of the Culper Ring. Agent 355 was one of the first spies for the United States, but her real identity is unknown. The number, 355, could be de-crypted from the system the Culper Ring used to mean "lady."
- "Agent 355" | 2019-07-04 | 115 Upvotes 10 Comments
Around the World in Seventy-Two Days
Around the World in Seventy-Two Days is an 1890 book by journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, writing under her pseudonym, Nellie Bly. The chronicle details her 72-day trip around the world, which was inspired by the book, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. She carried out the journey for Joseph Pulitzer's tabloid newspaper, the New York World.
- "Around the World in Seventy-Two Days" | 2019-02-20 | 54 Upvotes 10 Comments
The Calutron Girls
The Calutron Girls were a group of young women, mostly high school graduates who joined the World War II efforts in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1945.
Although they were not allowed to know at the time, they were monitoring dials and watching meters for a calutron, a mass spectrometer that separates uranium isotopes. The enriched uranium was used to make the first atomic bomb.
Calutron Girls were trained and employed at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Wartime labor shortages forced the Tennessee Eastman Corporation to hire women to work at the Y-12 plant.
According to Gladys Owens, one of the few Calutron Girls, a manager at the facility once told them: "We can train you how to do what is needed, but cannot tell you what you are doing. I can only tell you that if our enemies beat us to it, God have mercy on us!"
Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin (née Payne; (1900-05-10)May 10, 1900 – (1979-12-07)December 7, 1979) was a British-born American astronomer and astrophysicist who proposed in her 1925 doctoral thesis that stars were composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. Her groundbreaking conclusion was initially rejected because it contradicted the scientific wisdom of the time, which held that there were no significant elemental differences between the Sun and Earth. Independent observations eventually proved she was actually correct
- "Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin" | 2013-08-11 | 38 Upvotes 55 Comments
Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (née Murray December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.
Prior to joining the Navy, Hopper earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University and was a professor of mathematics at Vassar College. Hopper attempted to enlist in the Navy during World War II but was rejected because she was 34 years old. She instead joined the Navy Reserves. Hopper began her computing career in 1944 when she worked on the Harvard Mark I team led by Howard H. Aiken. In 1949, she joined the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation and was part of the team that developed the UNIVAC I computer. At Eckert–Mauchly she began developing the compiler. She believed that a programming language based on English was possible. Her compiler converted English terms into machine code understood by computers. By 1952, Hopper had finished her program linker (originally called a compiler), which was written for the A-0 System. During her wartime service, she co-authored three papers based on her work on the Harvard Mark 1.
In 1954, Eckert–Mauchly chose Hopper to lead their department for automatic programming, and she led the release of some of the first compiled languages like FLOW-MATIC. In 1959, she participated in the CODASYL consortium, which consulted Hopper to guide them in creating a machine-independent programming language. This led to the COBOL language, which was inspired by her idea of a language being based on English words. In 1966, she retired from the Naval Reserve, but in 1967 the Navy recalled her to active duty. She retired from the Navy in 1986 and found work as a consultant for the Digital Equipment Corporation, sharing her computing experiences.
The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named for her, as was the Cray XE6 "Hopper" supercomputer at NERSC. During her lifetime, Hopper was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities across the world. A college at Yale University was renamed in her honor. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Technology. On November 22, 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
- "Grace Hopper" | 2013-08-31 | 190 Upvotes 54 Comments
Hedy Lamarr (), born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler (November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000), was an Austrian-born American actress, inventor and film producer. She was part of 30 films in an acting career spanning 28 years, and co-invented an early version of frequency-hopping spread spectrum.
After a brief early film career in Czechoslovakia, including the controversial Ecstasy (1933), she fled from her husband, a wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer, and secretly moved to Paris. Traveling to London, she met Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood, where he began promoting her as the "world's most beautiful woman".
She became a star with her performance in Algiers (1938), her first film made in the United States. Her MGM films include Lady of the Tropics (1939), Boom Town (1940), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941), and White Cargo (1942). Dismayed with her MGM contract, Lamarr co-founded a new production studio and starred in its films including The Strange Woman (1946), and Dishonored Lady (1947). Her greatest success was as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949). She also acted on television before the release of her final film, The Female Animal (1958). She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
At the beginning of World War II, Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes, intended to use frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. She also helped to improve aviation designs for Howard Hughes while they dated during the war. Although the US Navy did not adopt Lamarr and Antheil's invention until 1957, various spread-spectrum techniques are incorporated into Bluetooth technology and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of Wi-Fi. Recognition of the value of their work resulted in the pair being posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
- "Hedy Lamarr" | 2020-02-12 | 38 Upvotes 18 Comments
- "Hedy Lamarr, femme fatale and inventor of spread spectrum communications " | 2010-05-21 | 65 Upvotes 8 Comments
Juliane Koepcke - survived a 10K foot freefall from an airliner
Juliane Koepcke (born 1954), also known by her married name Juliane Diller, is a German Peruvian mammalogist. As a teenager in 1971, Koepcke was the lone survivor of the LANSA Flight 508 plane crash, then survived eleven days alone in the Amazon rainforest.
- "Juliane Koepcke - survived a 10K foot freefall from an airliner" | 2012-10-20 | 10 Upvotes 5 Comments
Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori ( MON-tiss-OR-ee, Italian: [maˈriːa montesˈsɔːri]; August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952) was an Italian physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name, and her writing on scientific pedagogy. At an early age, Montessori broke gender barriers and expectations when she enrolled in classes at an all-boys technical school, with hopes of becoming an engineer. She soon had a change of heart and began medical school at the Sapienza University of Rome, where she graduated – with honors – in 1896. Her educational method is in use today in many public and private schools globally.
- "Maria Montessori" | 2012-08-31 | 34 Upvotes 19 Comments
Oomoto (大本, Ōmoto, Great Source, or Great Origin), also known as Oomoto-kyo (大本教, Ōmoto-kyō), is a religion founded in 1892 by Deguchi Nao (1836–1918), often categorised as a new Japanese religion originated from Shinto. The spiritual leaders of the movement have predominantly been women; however, Deguchi Onisaburō (1871–1948) has been considered an important figure in Omoto as a seishi (spiritual teacher). Since 2001, the movement has been guided by its fifth leader, Kurenai Deguchi.
- "Ōmoto" | 2018-02-05 | 47 Upvotes 4 Comments