ten thousand spoons

When all you need is a knife, this is not an Alanis Morissette tribute

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Historical Photographs of Scientists in Love

Some couples are lucky enough to share not only their passions for one another, but their joint passion for scientific exploration. These photos, taken mostly in the first half of the twentieth century, celebrate couples who expanded our knowledge of the world together.

1. Frédéric Joliot (1900-1958) and Iréne Joliot-Curie (1897-1956) had been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935. This photograph may have been taken in the 1940s.

2. This photograph from a 1932 handmade New Year’s greeting card shows nutritionist Annie Barbara Clark Callow with her husband, the physicist E.H. Callow, who worked at the Low Temperature Research Station and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Cambridge University.

3. Carnegie Museum botanist Otto Emery Jennings (1877-1964) and Grace Emma Kinzer Jennings (d. 1957). Grace Jennings was a fourth-generation Pittsburgher whose family had established one of the city’s major iron foundries. She was an assistant in botany at the Carnegie Museum, 1902-1918, when they married and she accompanied him on nearly every collecting field trip.

4. British archeologist and anthropologist Mary Douglas Nicol Leakey (1913-1996) and her husband Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey (1903-1972), 1962.

5. In this 1935 photograph, botanist Wilmatte Porter Cockerell (1871-1957) is shown with biologist Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell (1866-1948), whom she married in 1900. In 1901, he named the ultramarine blue chromodorid Mexichromis porterae in her honor. 

6. Mary Knapp Strong Clemens (1873-1965) is shown at the New York Botanical Garden with her husband, Joseph Clemens (1862-1936), an ordained Methodist minister who had become a U.S. Army Chaplain in 1902. While stationed in the Philippines, Mary and Joseph began collecting botanical specimens for scientists throughout the world. A

7. Odd Dahl (1899-1994) was a Norwegian adventurer who had no formal scientific training but later made great contributions to research on atomic energy. During the 1930s, Odd Dahl joined the staff of the Carnegie Institution in Washington as a member of the team developing the Van de Graff generator and later led Norway’s atomic energy program. He is shown here with his wife Anna “Vesse” Dahl.

8. Pierre Curie (1859-1906) and Marie Sklodowska Curie (1867-1934) were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 for discovery of the radioactive elements polonium and radium. Even today, the Curies provide inspiration for popular culture and textbook discussions of science. 

I suppose we forget that scientists are real people too. And we also seem to assume that science, culture and literature are all poles apart. However, it is evident that scientists do feel, and that maybe the three things are interwoven. 

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