Stumbling Toward Enlightenment

Remember the Ladies: Madge Adam

Solar physicist acclaimed for her work on sunspots and magnetic fields
Kay Williams, The Guardian

Madge Gertrude Adam, solar astronomer, born March 6 1912; died August 25, 2001.

Photo Credit: DiaboloDeus via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: DiaboloDeus via Compfight cc

In 1935, Madge Adam, who has died aged 89, became the first of a long line of postgraduate research students in solar physics at the University of Oxford Observatory. The new director of the observatory, Professor HH Plaskett, was about to establish solar physics as its chief research object, and the Sun was Adam’s particular interest. Having just found herself in possession of a first, she heard that Plaskett was asking for research students. “So I knocked on his door and said, ‘How about me?’.”

The woman who became a dedicated researcher, internationally known for her work on the nature of sunspots and on their magnetic fields, was to be a key figure at the observatory for the rest of her life.

The youngest of three children, Adam was born near Highbury, north London, where her father taught at Drayton Park School. In 1915, he volunteered, and after his death in action three years later, his widow and children moved to Yorkshire to live with their maternal grandparents. It was a “very Christian” environment that would greatly influence the children’s lives.

Later, Adam and her brother, a canon of Blackburn Cathedral, professed as Franciscan tertiaries – members of an Anglican order requiring them to follow a threefold rule of simplicity, chastity and obedience. Their sister became the wife of a canon and the mother of yet another. Thus, surrounded by family clerics, Adam was inspired to adapt Tennyson: “Canon to right of them, canon to left of them . . .”

At the age of nine, she was diagnosed with rickets and skeletal tuberculosis in an elbow, and spent a year in the Liverpool Open-Air Hospital for children with TB. Returning to her Yorkshire elementary school, she was awarded a scholarship to Doncaster High School, where her burgeoning interest in science and mathematics was fostered. In 1931, she went up to St Hugh’s College to become the only female Oxford undergraduate in that physics year.

The beginning of her research studentship in 1935 coincided with the installation of the Oxford University Observatory’s first solar telescope. Two years later, she was appointed research assistant there, and an assistant tutor at St Hugh’s. When Plaskett was drafted early in the war to a research post with the ministry of aircraft production, Adam was made acting director of the observatory. She also taught astronomy courses, with an emphasis on astronavigation, to Royal Navy and RAF cadets. Appointed a university demonstrator in 1947, she later also took over the observatory’s financial accounts.

When DWN Stibbs arrived at the observatory as Radcliffe fellow in 1952, he had a high regard for Adam’s research: “It was Plaskett’s meticulous work on motions in the Sun at the photospheric level, and Miss Adam’s work on the Fraunhofer lines in the solar spectrum, supported by her work on solar and stellar magnetic fields, that kept the Oxford work in the forefront of spectroscopic astrophysics research in the United Kingdom.”

Adam was also influential in enhancing the productivity of mathematicians, by directing their attention to some of the key problems in theoretical astrophysics. As an external examiner in astronomy for the University of St Andrews, she also contributed greatly to the scope of the courses and quality of the examinations.

Photo Credit: Sergei Golyshev via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Sergei Golyshev via Compfight cc

Gentle and self-effacing, Adam applied the same scrupulous care to people as she did to science. Though not herself ready to experiment with the “newfangled” electronic computer installed by the university in 1958, she always encouraged her students to use it. Her generosity to postgraduate research students was legendary. One former student recalled the absence of comment even mildly critical of her: “In the academic environment, with its traditional sniping, that was quite an achievement and spoke volumes as to her character. It was, simply, quite impossible not to like her.”

By now living on Oxford’s Woodstock Road, Madge still ate in college – she “couldn’t be bothered” to cook. She was a familiar sight perched atop her very large bicycle, vigorously pedalling to and from the observatory. In the mid-1960s, she spent a sabbatical year in Australia, studying magnetic stars at Mt Stromlo. While there, she learned to drive, and on her return, replaced the bicycle with an elderly small car that became equally well known locally.

Adam loved hymns, Bach and Gilbert & Sullivan, the religious writings of William Johnstone and crosswords. She read no modern literature, but had an encyclopaedic knowledge of virtually every minor character in the novels of Anthony Trollope, who ranked equal in her estimation with Jane Austen. There was no television set in her retirement apartment; she visited her sister’s flat nearby to watch University Challenge and snooker, which fascinated her. “I think,” she said of her fascination for the game, “that it might be the mathematics of it.”

Despite the onset of rheumatoid arthritis and the loss of hearing in her later years, she remained great fun, too.

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Remember the Ladies: Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova

“Valentina Tereshkova”. Valentina Tereshkova, pilot-cosmonaut, first female cosmonaut, Hero of the USSR. Pictured as a Major of the Soviet Air Forces (WikiCommons: Commons:RIA Novosti)

“Valentina Tereshkova”. Valentina Tereshkova, pilot-cosmonaut, first female cosmonaut, Hero of the USSR. Pictured as a Major of the Soviet Air Forces (WikiCommons: Commons:RIA Novosti)

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Russian: born 6 March 1937) is the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. In order to join the Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was only honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force and thus she also became the first civilian to fly in space.

Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver. After the dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still referred as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.

In 2013 she offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity arose. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics she was a flag-carrier of the Olympic flag.

Early life
Tereshkova was born in the village of Maslennikovo in Tutayevsky District, Yaroslavl Oblast, in central Russia. Her parents had migrated from Belarus. Tereshkova’s father was a tractor driver and her mother worked in a textile plant. Tereshkova began school in 1945 at the age of eight, but left school in 1953 and continued her education by correspondence courses. She became interested in parachuting from a young age, and trained in skydiving at the local Aeroclub, making her first jump at age 22 on 21 May 1959; at the time, she was employed as a textile worker in a local factory. It was her expertise in skydiving that led to her selection as a cosmonaut. In 1961 she became the secretary of the local Komsomol (Young Communist League) and later joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. [See Wikipedia for more…]

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Remember the Ladies: Bonnie J. Dunbar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Original uploader was ScottyBoy900Q at en.wikipedia

Original uploader was ScottyBoy900Q at en.wikipedia – Transfered from en.wikipedia Transfer was stated to be made by User:TheDJ.

Bonnie Jeanne Dunbar (born March 3, 1949) is a former NASA astronaut. She retired from NASA in September 2005. She then served as president and CEO of The Museum of Flight until April 2010. Dr. Dunbar now leads the new University of Houston’s STEM Center (science, technology, engineering and math) and joined the faculty of the Cullen College of Engineering.

Early life
Dunbar was born in Sunnyside, Washington. In 1967, she graduated from Sunnyside High School, Sunnyside, Washington. Following graduation in 1971 from the University of Washington, Dunbar worked for Boeing Computer Services for two years as a systems analyst. From 1973 to 1975, she conducted research for her master’s thesis in the field of mechanisms and kinetics of ionic diffusion in sodium beta-alumina. She is a member of Kappa Delta Sorority.

In 1975, she was invited to participate in research at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell near Oxford, England, as a visiting scientist. Her work there involved the wetting behavior of liquids on solid substrates. Following her work in England, she accepted a senior research engineer position with Rockwell International Space Division in Downey, California. Her responsibilities there included developing equipment and processes for the manufacture of the Space Shuttle thermal protection system in Palmdale, California. She also represented Rockwell International as a member of the Dr. Kraft Ehricke evaluation committee on prospective space industrialization concepts. Dunbar completed her doctorate at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. Her multi-disciplinary dissertation (materials science and physiology) involved evaluating the effects of simulated space flight on bone strength and fracture toughness. These results were correlated to alterations in hormonal and metabolic activity. Dr. Dunbar has served as an adjunct assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston.

Dunbar is a private pilot with over 200 hours in single engine land aircraft, has logged more than 700 hours flying time in T-38 jets as a back-seater, and has over 100 hours as co-pilot in a Cessna Citation jet. She was married to fellow astronaut Ronald M. Sega.

NASA career
Dunbar accepted a position as a payload officer/flight controller at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1978. She served as a guidance and navigation officer/flight controller for the Skylab reentry mission in 1979 and was subsequently designated project officer/payload officer for the integration of several Space Shuttle payloads.

Dunbar became a NASA astronaut in August 1981. Her technical assignments have included assisting in the verification of Shuttle flight software at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), serving as a member of the Flight Crew Equipment Control Board, participation as a member of the Astronaut Office Science Support Group, supporting operational development of the remote manipulator system (RMS). She has served as chief of the Mission Development Branch, as the Astronaut Office interface for “secondary” payloads, and as lead for the Science Support Group. In 1993, Dr. Dunbar served as Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. In February 1994, she traveled to Star City, Russia, where she spent 13-months training as a back-up crew member for a 3-month flight on the Russian Space Station, Mir. In March 1995, she was certified by the Russian Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center as qualified to fly on long duration Mir Space Station flights. From October 1995 to November 1996, she was detailed to the NASA JSC Mission Operations Directorate as Assistant Director where she was responsible for chairing the International Space Station Training Readiness Reviews, and facilitating Russian/American operations and training strategies.

A veteran of five space flights, Dunbar has logged more than 1,208 hours (50 days) in space. She served as a mission specialist on STS-61-A in 1985, STS-32 in 1990, and STS-71 in 1995, and was the Payload Commander on STS-50 in 1992, and STS-89 in 1998.

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Remember the Ladies: Ruby Dandridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Actress Ruby Dandridge. Source (WP:NFCC#4)

Actress Ruby Dandridge.
Source (WP:NFCC#4)

Ruby Dandridge (born Ruby Jean Butler; March 3, 1900[1] – October 17, 1987) was an American actress from the early 1900s to the 1950s. She is best known for her radio work in her early days of acting. Dandridge is best known for her role on the radio show Amos ‘n Andy, in which she played Sadie Blake and Harriet Crawford, and on radio’s Judy Canova Show, in which she played “Geranium”. She is recognized for her role in the 1959 movie A Hole in the Head as “Sally”.

Life and career
She was born as Ruby Jean Butler in Wichita, Kansas, to Nellie Simon (who was of mixed Spanish and Indian heritage) and George Butler (who was born in Jamaica in 1860 and came to the United States as a child). On September 30, 1919, she married Cyril Dandridge. She moved with her husband to Cleveland, Ohio, where her daughter, actress Vivian Dandridge (1921–1991) was born. A second daughter, Academy Award-nominated actress Dorothy Dandridge, was born there in 1922, five months after Ruby and Cyril divorced. It is noted that after her divorce, Ruby Dandridge became involved with her companion, Geneva Williams, who reportedly overworked the children and punished them harshly.

One of her earliest appearances (uncredited, as were many of the minor roles she played) was as a native dancer in King Kong.

Death and legacy
Ruby attended her daughter Dorothy Dandridge’s funeral in 1965. On October 17, 1987, she died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California and was interred next to Dorothy at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. In the 1999 film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Ruby is portrayed by Loretta Devine.

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