Glimpses of a Young Woman Working in Laboratories 1959-1963

Log tables: an essential tool for scientists in the era before cheap calculators and computers.

Log tables: an essential tool for scientists in the era before cheap calculators and computers.

It was Robyn Arianrhod’s book, Seduced by Logic, that prompted me to write this series of posts about my mother’s working life and her education in maths and science.  Arianrhod’s book is about two female mathematicians, one from the eighteenth century and the other who lived in the nineteenth century.  These women made significant contributions to the scientific revolution that swept Europe (read my review here).

I had given my father a biography of Newton for the last birthday he had before he died so I was thinking of him while reading the book. I had not expected this book to trigger thoughts about my mother, yet there it was – a discussion of spectroscopy on pages 181-2.

Through spectroscopy scientists can understand more about an object by analysing the light it emits or absorbs.  My mother worked as a technical assistant in a spectroscopy laboratory while she was studying maths and physics at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Continue reading