Sunday, 21 September 2008

Scientist Pin-Ups: DNA's dark lady

Update: Elke and Miriam have accepted embraced the challenge!

In this first installment of Scientist Pin-Ups, I have decided to feature an important (and lovely) figure in the history of science: Dr Rosalind Franklin. I have selected three imminently pin-uppable pictures of Franklin, but before you feast your eyes, please take a moment to read this short excerpt from the National Library of Medicine's excellent Rosalind Franklin Papers:
Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) was a British chemist and crystallographer who is best known for her role in the discovery of the structure of DNA. It was her x-ray diffraction photos of DNA and her analysis of that data--provided to Francis Crick and James Watson without her knowledge--that gave them clues crucial to building their correct theoretical model of the molecule in 1953. While best known for this work, Franklin also did important research into the micro-structure and properties of coals and other carbons, and spent the last five years of her career elucidating the structure of plant viruses, notably tobacco mosaic virus.
There is also the brilliant BBC Four documentary, The Dark Lady of DNA (called Secret of Photo 51 in the US) both with associated online content. Now on to the pictures:

Rosalind Franklin, "seen here serving coffee in evaporating dishes at her Parisian laboratory in the late 1940s" (image from NOVA's Secret of Photo 51)

Rosalind Franklin on holiday in Tuscany in Spring, 1950.
Image from the National Library of Medicine's Rosalind Franklin Papers

Rosalind Franklin mountain climbing in Norway, ca. 1940s.
Image from the National Library of Medicine's Rosalind Franklin Papers

In my next post I will highlight one more historical (lovely) figure in science before moving on to caricatures of sciency sexiness (as I said in the grand challenge, the Scientist Pin-Up is ultimately what we're after here, the idealized sexiness of scientists). But I couldn't move on to that until I set the baseline with some big-name scientists with beautiful visages to match their profound intellects.

If you know of a good Scientist Pin-Up that you'd like to see featured in future posts, please post a link to the image(s) in comments.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


*shakes off cobwebs and preoccupation with politics*

My friend M sent not one but two shots across my bow today. The first was her assertion on Facebook that the only sandal Birkenstock should bother producing is the Milano. Pfffft. Everyone (minus one) knows the Arizona is where it's at.

The second, and this is going to be the subject of this post, was her post on [name of blog removed], [name of post removed]. In the challenge post, M gives us a tantalizing spread of brainy-therefore-intimidating-and-inhibited-therefore-oh-so-debauchable-therefore-sexy pin-up girls.

Which is all well and good.


Why do the librarian types get to have a monopoly on brainy-sexiness? Where are the scientists? We're brainy, after all, and therefore I think we should bebetter represented in our cultural repertoire of brainy-sexy images.

And therein lies the challenge: go ye my minions readers and find me images of sexy scientists! Extra credit will be given for images which are caricatures of sciency sexiness. The Scientist Pin-Up is ultimately what we're after here, the idealized sexiness of scientists.

I will now gather a few starter images, and recruit a few allies, and will get back to you soon with my first salvo of sexy science images. In the meantime, please post links to your own submissions in comments. At some stage we'll do a poll or a vote or something. Winner to receive bragging rights and possibly a mention on the Cafe Press t-shirt that I plan to make from the winning image with the caption "science is sexy".