Savannah Martin
March 14, 2015 8:00 am

Happy Pi Day, everyone! I know it might not be a huge holiday, but it’s certainly a good excuse to stuff your face with a delicious dessert and celebrate your inner mathlete. I think a good way to celebrate is to pay tribute to some famous scientists and mathematicians. And this year, I’ve decided to focus my celebration on the women who contributed to these fields! We definitely need more women in the maths and sciences, but history is full of ladies who contributed big time to the fields. Let’s start from the beginning:

  • Hypatia of Alexandria (350 AD – 415 AD) — This Egyptian was a mathematician, an astronomer, AND a philosopher. She is known to be the first woman to make a significant contribution to mathematics. Oh, and she ran an exclusive school that was basically what we would call a private school. Did I mention that this was a school founded by Plato? Yeah, that Plato, the one you learned about in your middle school history class. Sadly, Hypatia was murdered. Nobody knows exactly how, or who her murderer was, but we do know that she was assassinated. Hypatia was majorly important in the fight for women in math and sciences, though!
  • James Barry (1795- 1865) — Wait, James? Yeah, this is actually a woman! She pulled a total Mulan and pretended to be a man just to get into medical school, making her the first woman to actually attend medical school. Many believe it was Elizabeth Blackwell, but now we know the truth! Margaret Ann (that’s her real name) kept up the act until the day she died. She became a military surgeon for the British army, and then later became Inspector General, which put her in charge of many medical schools. She risked her life pretending to be a man during this time, but did so in the name of science!
  • Marie Curie (1867- 1934) — We all know her. Not only was she gorgeous, but she also married the handsome Pierre Curie, a fellow scientist, and paved the way for radioactivity research. In turn, she unknowingly risked her life. All of the radioactive substances she worked with ended up being the death of her. But she is known as one of the mothers of science and chemistry, and really opened the doors for women in science. Thanks, Marie!
  • Chien-Shiung Wu (1912- 1997) — Another wonderful woman in radioactivity! The difference? In addition to being a woman, she was also Chinese-American, which made her a double minority. She didn’t let any obstacles stand in her way though. She is also credited for working on nuclear fusion, and we all know what nuclear means (yeah, we’re talkin’ explosives). As a Chinese-American woman in the 1930s and 1940s who did so much for the science in United States, she is truly an inspiration!
  • Carolyn Porco (1953- Present) — And now to end it all, a modern day science woman. This wonderful lady won two big awards for her work with planets in the 1980s. She’s credited with what are called the best pictures ever taken of our planet and the others in our solar system. She also worked for NASA! How awesome is that? Oh, did I mention that she was named one of TIME magazine’s 25 Most Inspirational People In Space? That’s a BIG DEAL, people! Carolyn has done so much for science, and she’s also a fantastic role model. I mean, she loves The Beatles, which is crucial in a role model.

Pi Day Fun Fact: The first several digits of Pi are 3.141592653. Today, there will be a point where the exact date will be 3-14-15 9:26:53. March 14th, 2015, 9 hours, 26 minutes, and 53 seconds. Notice anything cool about that?

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