Who is Mary Somerville? Google honours Scottish scientist who paved the way for women in science
New Delhi, Feb 02: The search engine giant is honouring Scottish scientist and science writer Mary Somerville with a doodle. The doodle shows Mary Somerville at her writing table surrounded by thought bubbles and books.
Born on 26 December 1780, Mary Somerville was a Scottish science writer and polymath. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and was nominated to be jointly the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society at the same time as Caroline Herschel. Her father, Sir William Fairfax, was a vice-admiral in the British navy. Her mother, Margaret Charters, was the daughter of Samuel Charters, the solicitor of customs in Scotland.
According to Google's doodle, it was on this day in 1826, that one of her experimental physics papers was read by the Royal Society of London. It also became the first paper by a female author to be published in the Philosophical Transactions.
When she died in 1872, The Morning Post (daily newspaper published in London) declared in her obituary that "Whatever difficulty we might experience in the middle of the nineteenth century in choosing a king of science, there could be no question whatever as to the queen of science".
She is featured on the obverse of the Royal Bank of Scotland polymer £10 note launched in 2017, alongside a quote from her work The Connection of the Physical Sciences.
Mary Somerville's most notable achievements:
- The Connection of the Physical Sciences (1834), which became among the best selling science books of the 19th century
- The Mechanism of the Heavens (1831), an essay that revolutionized the existing understanding of the solar system.
- She is credited with discovering Neptune due to her suggestions that there is a planet near Uranus.