We Are Biology: 10 Women Writing About Science

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In “Annihilation,” the film adapted from Jeff VanderMeer’s novel, a biologist (played by Natalie Portman) embarks on an expedition with a physicist, a psychologist, a paramedic, and a geologist — all women. The only thing truly unusual about this is that anyone might consider it unusual; after all, women have contributed to every imaginable science, and yet their presence in significant numbers still strikes us as a radical departure, a truly science-fictional element – even in 2018.

This bias extends from the sciences themselves to the tech and literary worlds, where women still struggle for adequate representation. Just look at quote-compiler Goodreads, where you can search the “science” tag for pages and pages without finding an entry by a woman (you may actually run across passages from the Bible first).

We’ve cut through the chaff to offer the following: quotes from women writing about science, whether from within their respective fields or from the sideline as observers of scientific culture.  To all the young women considering scientific careers: never let anyone convince you that your interest or contribution is without precedent. You just may have to do a little extra digging to provide the proper citation.

Marie Curie, from a letter to her brother, 1894
“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.”

Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, 1962
“A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”

Jane Goodall, The Bonobo in All of Us, 2007
“Imagine that we didn’t know the chimpanzee, that all we knew were those bonobos who have sex all the time and are peaceful and female-dominated and that people would say that this is our only close relative. I think we would have totally different theories about ourselves and our background. But, of course, it didn’t happen that way.”

Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, 2010
“Many scientists believed that since patients were treated for free in the public wards, it was fair to use them as research subjects as a form of payment. And as Howard Jones once wrote, ‘Hopkins, with its large indigent black population, had no dearth of clinical material.’”

Ann Druyan, from an interview with Skeptical Inquirer, 2003
“I think the roots of this antagonism to science run very deep. They’re ancient. We see them in Genesis, this first story, this founding myth of ours, in which the first humans are doomed and cursed eternally for asking a question, for partaking of the fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge”. It’s puzzling that Eden is synonymous with paradise when, if you think about it at all, it’s more like a maximum-security prison with twenty-four hour surveillance. It’s a horrible place. Adam and Eve have no childhood. They awaken full-grown. What is a human being without a childhood?”

Rachel Carson, John Burroughs Medal acceptance speech, 1952
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.”

Evelyn Fox Keller, Reflections on Gender and Science, 1985
“To know the history of science is to recognize the mortality of any claim to universal truth.”

Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson, 1999
“Faith is a fine invention
When gentlemen can see,
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency.”

Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, 2003
“We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior, 2012
“For scientists, reality is not optional.”

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11 Books About Syria to Make Sense of the Civil War

A civil war has been raging within Syria since 2011, gradually taking on a more international scope as it has overlapped with other regional conflicts and drawn attention from global powers. Reading about it can be a wrenching experience, with numerous stories of death and displacement, along with atrocities, extremism, and the legacy of authoritarianism all present.

What follows is a look at a number of books that explore aspects of the war in Syria from a host of perspectives. Some come from people who witnessed harrowing events firsthand; others provide a more distanced look at the conflict and its implications. If you’re looking to better understand what’s happening in Syria, from the war itself to its causes to its regional and global effects, these books can help.

The cover of the book Brothers of the GunBrothers of the Gun

Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple

Marwan Hisham has plenty of firsthand experience of the conflict in Syria, beginning with his participation in protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and continuing through his work as a journalist. For this richly detailed account of a nation at war, Hisham’s prose is accentuated by the striking, visceral artwork of Molly Crabapple.

 

The cover of the book The Way of the StrangersThe Way of the Strangers

Graeme Wood

Graeme Wood has written extensively about the Middle East and global politics for The Atlantic, among other publications. In his book The Way of the Strangers, he focuses on a narrative that dovetails painfully with the story of the ongoing war in Syria, exploring what has caused people across the region to become associated with the Islamic State’s oppressive regime. Wood’s narrative provides insights into the region’s politics and conflicts.

 

The cover of the book No Turning BackNo Turning Back

Rania Abouzeid

Rania Abouzeid has written extensively about Syria for a host of publications over the years; in her book No Turning Back, she focuses on the human cost of the conflict. In his review of the book for the New York Times, Christopher Dickey noted that the book contained “a tremendous sense of intimacy with the victims and the violence that surrounds them.”

 

The cover of the book Syria BurningSyria Burning

Charles Glass

Few conflicts, global or regional, arise completely spontaneously, and the Syrian War is no exception. In his book Syria Burning, Charles Glass–who’s been writing about the Middle East for decades — delves into the causes of the current war and explores the implications that it might have on the region in the years to come.

 

The cover of the book The Home That Was Our CountryThe Home That Was Our Country

Alia Malek

In her book The Home That Was Our Country, Alia Malek writes about an apartment belonging to her grandmother, which she traveled to Damascus to reclaim when the Arab Spring began. She offers a portrait of the diverse communities in the city around this space, tracing the societal changes in Syria over the years and decades.

 

The cover of the book SyriaSyria

John McHugo

For readers looking at the larger canvas of Syrian history, John McHugo’s comprehensive look at Syria over the course of the last hundred years will be tremendously helpful. In exploring this history, McHugo delves into how colonialism shaped the nation, Syria’s involvement in global wars, and a series of other events leading up to its present conflict.

 

The cover of the book Death Is Hard WorkDeath Is Hard Work

Khaled Khalifa

Not all explorations of a war’s effect on a nation come through memoirs of sprawling histories. In Death Is Hard Work, Khaled Khalifa uses fiction to show how war has affected Syria, blending absurdism and tragedy along the way. In the tale of estranged siblings attempting to bury their father’s body as a war rages around them, Khalifa offers a different window on the war, but one no less memorable.

 

The cover of the book Syrian NotebooksSyrian Notebooks

Jonathan Littell

Jonathan Littell’s Syrian Notebooks provides a firsthand account of the Homs Uprising in 2012, one of the key events in Syria’s civil war. The book that resulted is one that traces the escalation of a conflict, demonstrating how it evolved from a civil conflict to something much more expansive.

 

The cover of the book The Battle for HomeThe Battle for Home

Marwa al-Sabouni

Syrian architect Marwa al-Sabouni offers a unique perspective on both the recent history of Syria and of the implications of the war taking place there. Her exploration of the architecture of Syria ventures into the numerous cultures that have thrived there, while also looking at how architecture might play a part in healing some of the wounds within Syrian society.

 

The cover of the book The Rise of Islamic StateThe Rise of Islamic State

Patrick Cockburn

Patrick Cockburn writes regularly about the Middle East for the Independent, and has written extensively about the region’s geopolitics. In The Rise of Islamic State, Cockburn explores the origins and implications of the extremist group that has played a significant role in the conflict. For readers looking to learn more about how this organization has affected Syria and its neighbors, Cockburn’s book offers a harrowing look.

 

The cover of the book Among the RuinsAmong the Ruins

Christian Sahner

Christian Sahner’s book offers a historical glimpse at Syria, written just as the nation’s civil war was beginning. Sahner offers a historian’s perspective on events, and brings in a sweeping view of the events in the nation’s past that have had a significant influence on the conflict going on there now.

8 Finance Books That’ll Help to Get You On Your Feet

We’ve all, at some point or another, walked the fine line between staying afloat financially and drowning in debt. Expenses can be crippling, and just making ends meet has become extremely difficult.

There’s no better time than now to get your finances in order. The eight books listed below will help you to understand the world of economics, expand your knowledge, and guide you on your own personal financial journey.

IF YOU FANCY YOURSELF AN ARMCHAIR ECONOMIST:

The cover of the book Makers and TakersMakers and Takers

Rana Foroohar

Many believe that our economic system is rigged to benefit the privileged elites at the expense of hard-working Americans – a belief that is only continuing to grow, and most likely propelled Donald Trump into the White House. In Makers and Takers, Financial Times columnist Rana Foroohar examines why Wall Street is no longer supporting Main Street businesses, and how our corrupted financial sys­tem is inhibiting the American Dream.

 

The cover of the book Zero HourZero Hour

Harry S. Dent, Jr. with Andrew Pancholi

In this book, Harry S. Dent Jr., bestselling author of The Demographic Cliff and The Sale of a Lifetime, shares his predictions for the upcoming years: low points for multiple political, economic, and demographic cycles resulting in a major financial crash, or an “Economic Winter.” With the help of expert Andrew Pancholi, Harry discusses how to survive the difficult times ahead, and the best ways to invest your money.

 

The cover of the book The Growth DelusionThe Growth Delusion

David Pilling

In this powerful, compelling book, David Pilling exposes the dangers of the biases in economic orthodoxy and explores the alternatives to GDP. He tackles topics such as measures of wealth, equality, sustainability, and measures of subjective well-being. Thought-provoking and revelatory, The Growth Delusion offers unique and profound insights into how our society can best meet the needs of real people.

 

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING MORE HANDS-ON:

The cover of the book Side HustleSide Hustle

Chris Guillebeau

Some people dream of quitting their full-time job to pursue entrepreneurship and be their own boss. But for the majority of people, the thought of not having a stable income is terrifying. What’s the happy medium? How can you make extra money without giving up your career? Chris Gullibeau knows the answer: a side hustle. In this book, he offers a step-by-step guide that takes you from idea to income in just 27 days.

 

The cover of the book Boss BitchBoss Bitch

Nicole Lapin

New York Times bestselling author Nicole Lapin is not afraid to take charge of her life, her career, and her future by being a total “boss.” She’s become the boss of her own life, a boss at work, and the literal boss of her own company, and wants to teach women everywhere how to do the same.  This empowering guide serves as a reminder to women that they shouldn’t be afraid to take control of their own lives and careers, and truly be a boss bitch.

 

The cover of the book This is the Year I Put My Financial Life in OrderThis is the Year I Put My Financial Life in Order

John Schwartz

Most of us like to think that we’re either born with great money management skills, or not. But in This Is the Year I Put My Financial Life in Order, John Schwartz argues that financial planning can be learned, like anything else. John and his wife are well above the poverty line, but well below the one percent, and in this book, he shares their (hilarious) experiences in finding peace with their finances. This down-to-earth book is a perfect guide for everyone who has never wanted to read an authoritative financial guide.

 

The cover of the book You Need More MoneyYou Need More Money

Matt Manero

Serial entrepreneur and small business expert Matt Manero’s You Need More Money is a motivational book that pushes you to reclaim your dreams of acquiring wealth and gives you a roadmap to ramp up your income and savings. It’s the perfect tool for someone looking to boost their financial prowess and get their finances in order.

 

The cover of the book Retirement ReinventionRetirement Reinvention

Robin Ryan

Robin Ryan has been committed to helping her clients enhance their careers for the past twenty years. Now in Retirement Reinvention, she exposes how retirement is changing and debunks the myths associated with it. Each meaningful page is filled with advice for leaving a disappointing career, exploring interests, finding new opportunities, and enjoying a healthy work-life balance.