Book ID: CBB001213181

I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science (2013)


Senechal, Marjorie (Author)

Oxford University Press

Publication Date: 2013
Physical Details: 300 pp.; ill.
Language: English

In the vein of A Beautiful Mind, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, and Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA, this volume tells the poignant story of the brilliant, colorful, controversial mathematician named Dorothy Wrinch. Drawing on her own personal and professional relationship with Wrinch and archives in the United States, Canada, and England, Marjorie Senechal explores the life and work of this provocative, scintillating mind. Senechal portrays a woman who was learned, restless, imperious, exacting, critical, witty, and kind. A young disciple of Bertrand Russell while at Cambridge, the first women to receive a doctor of science degree from Oxford University, Wrinch's contributions to mathematical physics, philosophy, probability theory, genetics, protein structure, and crystallography were anything but inconsequential. But Wrinch, a complicated and ultimately tragic figure, is remembered today for her much publicized feud with Linus Pauling over the molecular architecture of proteins. Pauling ultimately won that bitter battle. Yet, Senechal reminds us, some of the giants of mid-century science--including Niels Bohr, Irving Langmuir, D'Arcy Thompson, Harold Urey, and David Harker--took Wrinch's side in the feud. What accounts for her vast if now-forgotten influence? What did these renowned thinkers, in such different fields, hope her model might explain? Senechal presents a sympathetic portrait of the life and work of a luminous but tragically flawed character. At the same time, she illuminates the subtler prejudices Wrinch faced as a feisty woman, profound culture clashes between scientific disciplines, ever-changing notions of symmetry and pattern in science, and the puzzling roles of beauty and truth.

Reviewed By

Review Gayle A. Buck (2014) Review of "I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science". Science Education (pp. 740-742). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Cronon, William
Staley, Richard A.
Loo, Tina
Keller, Richard C.
Coleman, Simon
Carlin, Leslie
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
Earth Sciences History: Journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
British Journal for the History of Science
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Historical Records of Australian Science
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
Oxford University Press
Walker & Company
American Mathematical Society
University of Wales Press
World Scientific
Controversies and disputes
Science and society
Political activists and activism
Russell, Bertrand Arthur William
Eaton, Amos
Maclure, William
Coxeter, Harold Scott MacDonald
Lilley, Samuel
Rotblat, Joseph
Great Britain
United States
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
21st century
16th century

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