It’s International Women’s Day! And Science Burrito would like to celebrate that fact. This was going to be a very simple blog in which I told you some interesting facts about some incredible female scientists but in what turned out to be a very dry way. Then, while I was writing it, I found myself repeating the phrase “which would make a great movie!” And that got me thinking, we’ve had a flurry of very successful biopics of late about male scientists, but none focussing on women in science.
So, here are Science Burrito Studios’ pitches for some movies about some of the greatest female scientists who ever lived. And if any Hollywood big wigs are reading this, I am more than happy to talk scripts!
The Astronomer’s Assistant
Siblings Caroline and William Herschel work doggedly trough the 18th century night, carefully recording their ground breaking observations of the universe. By day, they create magnificent instrum
ents in their workshop and beautiful music in their parlour. Theirs seems the perfect happy home.
But when the discovery of Uranus propels William to fame and acclaim, Caroline is left to languish in his shadow, cast always as the plucky assistant, and rarely of a scientist of her own right. And things are only going to get worse when her brother falls in love and their perfect little home is thrown into turmoil.
This is a tale of love of all kinds, and of one great woman making a great name for herself in the face of great adversity.
Catch all the details at their home and workshops in Bath.
Mary Anning: Fossil Hunter
In the midst of a terrible storm, on the haunting cliffs of England’s south coast in the 19th century, a dark figure stalks Lyme Regis, on the hunt with her faithful hound. Follow the adventures and misadventures of the incredible Mary Anning: Fossil Hunter as she struggles for recognition in a man’s world. Scientist, daredevil, business woman, she uses her skills as a palaeontologist and a trader to keep herself out of poverty, her only friend in the world her dog, Tray.
Rejoice with her as she makes incredible scientific discoveries, cry with her as she loses Tray on one fateful hunting session during a brutal and deadly storm, share her trials and tribulations as she is ignored by the scientific community she has given everything for. But don’t expect a happy ending; this story is not for the faint of heart.
You can find out more in Lyme Regis, where you can still go fossil hunting yourself, today.
The Enchantress of Number
A world infamous father (Lord Byron), a mother who’s trying to convince her she’s insane, Ada Lovelace is the glamorous mathematician, the world’s first computer programmer. Her mother’s obsession with Ada’s sanity fuels her own interest in science and the mind, and plunges her into the dark and fascinating world of phrenology and mesmerism.
Supported by Michael Faraday and described by Babbage as “The Enchantress of Number”, her fantastically successful professional lies at odds with her turbulent personal life, as she struggles with her controlling mother, the early death of her brilliant father, and an illness, inexpertly treated by outdated medicine, that would take her from the world far too soon.
The full story of Ada Lovelace’s exceptional life can be found at the Science Museum in London.
Out of the Floating University
Follow the story of Marie Curie, the international heroine of science, as she secretively fights for a true education in Russian controlled Warsaw, attending the underground Floating University. See how, with the help of her father, she escapes to Paris where she meets the love of her life, Pierre and embarks on one of the greatest scientific careers of all time, winning her not one but two Nobel Prizes. Be amazed at the fearless heroism of this great woman as she risks her life bringing vital radiology equipment to troops of the horrific front lines of the First World War.
This is a tale of love and success that will, in the heart of mankind’s darkest hours, renew your faith in humanity and what we can accomplish.
Relive this remarkable life at the Musée Curie, Paris or the Marie Curie Museum, Warsaw.
Photograph 51 (I should point out, that I thought I was being incredibly clever with this particular title, but it turns out there is already a play based on the life of Rosalind Franklin under this name. I guess I was just a bit too late.)
Rosalind Franklin is betrayed by those she should be able to trust the most! Her friends and colleagues stole her research and her name was cruelly forgotten in one of the most important discoveries of all time, one pertaining to the very nature of life itself, the structure of DNA. It all came down to a single photo, taken from her research without her permission that led her rivals, Watson and Crick to fame and glory.
This story of trial and triumph finally culminates in Rosalind succumbing to that evil disease, cancer, likely bought on by her work with X-rays. The science she loved may well have killed her in the end. And to add insult to injury, just four years after her death, those responsible for so much of her suffering during the life were awarded the Nobel Prize for the discoveries they made with the work that ended her life.
Was this an honest oversight? An act of wanton professional vandalism? Did her aloof nature distance her from her fellow man? Or was she forced from society by their disregard for her gender in their male dominated world?
Find out the truth at the Science Museum in London.
And that’s just a handful of the brilliant historical female scientists I might have chosen from. Perhaps next year we can learn about some of the present women dedicating all they are to propelling us into the future.
Until next time, happy International Women’s Day.