29 thoughts on “5 Scientists Who Need Movies Made About Them

  1. Yes! I’m an electrical engineer and historical fashion lover here. Please, more historical dramas about women in science!

    And bonus points if they get a consultant for the film/miniseries who is an actual scientist.

    Hidden Figures was really great. Even in that though, there were a very few lines I winced at, thinking, “That line was not written by someone who does a lot of math.”

    Like Paul Stafford (I just called him “Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory” in my head the whole movie) saying, “but that method’s ancient!” Hmm, really? Cause math gets… what? Out of date? The electrical engineering formulas I use today are generally the same as when they were written in the 1800s… New engineering research is always finding new applications for old models.

    Still, Hidden Figures was so very my kind of movie. Let’s make more!

  2. Immediate thoughts:
    Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) – I know there’s a new documentary, but her story could also stand dramatization.
    Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) – she and her brother were both noted astronomers, but her specialty was finding comets.

  3. Ada Lovelace features in one episode of season two of Victoria; but I could have used more of her! Yes please, to all of the above!

  4. I third Hedy Lamarr. Rosalind Franklin needs her own movie too, with Watson and Crick relegated as far away as possible. Off the top of my head, Maria Mitchell and Hypatia of Alexandria too.

    A trip to Wikipedia gave me some other names. Engineer Nie Li, the first woman Lieutenant General of China’s People’s Liberation Army. Xie Xide was a physicist. She studied at MIT in the late 1940s-early 50s, which could not have been easy.

    1. I forgot to add Frances Glessner Lee, a pioneer in forensic science. Think of the scenes of her making period clothes at 1:12 scale!

  5. Seconding Ada Lovelace.

    Marie-Anne Lavoisier translated and corrected latin chemistry texts into French and helped define the scientific method, although I suppose translating Latin into French wouldn’t make for a very exciting movie.

    There’s also Hypatia, a Greek astronomer who is said to have thrown her menstrual rags at a man who interrupted her public lecture to flirt with her, although how true that is is up for debate.

    1. There is a film called Agora, starring Rachael Weisz, which came out in 2009 about Hypatia. I have never seen it, but apparently it is good and mostly historically accurate.

  6. Maybe they should do a movie in Curie’s WWI work — she put together a fleet of mobile x-ray machines*, trained herself, her teenaged daughter, and a number of other volunteers in anatomy, and went out to the battlefields.

    *with assistance from Winneretta Singer, one of the heirs to the Singer sewing machine fortune.

  7. Mary Edwards Walker, who was an abolitionist, prohibitionist, doctor, and POW during the American Civil War and is the only woman to (posthumously) receive the Medal of Honor.

  8. Dorothy Hodgkin. Pioneered analysis of protein structure by crystallography and won the Nobel prize.

  9. Lise Meitner! Helped discover nuclear fission, but was left out of the Nobel prize from 1944, which was awarded to Otto Hahn, her collaborator.

    1. Otto Hahn got the Nobel for the year 1944 but was actually awarded it after 1945. (Guess why it was backdated?) If Meitner really wanted that prize then I don’t want a movie about her.

  10. I’ve always thought Mary Edwards’ story would be interesting. She was 1 of 35 human computers (and the only woman) for the British nautical almanac during the 1770s to 1815.

  11. Mary Anning should be a household name. There is a great book about her by Shelley Emling called ‘The Fossil Hunter.’
    I’ve never heard about Merit-Ptah! Excited to do some research!

  12. Two female physicians that could use wider exposure:

    •Susan La Flesche Picotte, MD
    First Native American physician in the United States (received her medical degree before the much more famous Charles Eastman, MD who was part of the Dakota Nation). La Flesche Picotte was a member of the Omaha Nation and practiced Western medicine on the Omaha Reservation here in Nebraska (Omaha is named after the Omaha Nation). She’s an incredible woman that campaigned for better treatment of Native Americans. In addition to her social justice advocacy.

    •Maria Montessori, MD
    First woman in Italy to become a physician. Initially she wanted to be an engineer so entered an all boys school to assist her in her dream. She stumbled on what makes her famous, observing children and basing her learning/educational model on what she saw. Poor children ran around, unsupervised, so she took the opportunity to observe these children and realised children were naturally more open during certain periods of time in their development. That’s how the “Montessori Method” came into being.

  13. I just came across Mrs. Mary Somerville. She was Ada Lovelace’s mathematics tutor. Apparently, they would discuss math calculations over tea.

  14. Admiral Grace Hopper — she was one of the pioneers in the early days of computers. I portrayed her at a Women In Science evening, with this introduction:

    My name is Grace Murray Hopper. After more than ten years as a mathematics professor at Vassar College, I joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, to work on some of the earliest computers. Those computers were enormous. The IBM Mark I computer was eight feet high, two feet deep and 51 feet long. I once solved a computer problem by climbing inside the computer, to remove a moth that had stopped a mechanical relay — the first recorded instance of ‘debugging’ a computer!

    Programming those computers was difficult, too. All programs were written in binary – ones and zeros – with different numbers representing commands like ‘add’ or ‘subtract’. I thought that programs should be written in an English-like language, though I was told ‘don’t even try — computers will never understand English’. So I did it anyway. “It’s always easier to apologize than to ask permission.” The compiler I created eventually became the COBOL language – still used in mainframe business computers around the world, sixty years later.

    “The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, ‘Do you think we can do this?’ I say, ‘Try it.’ And I back ’em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.”

    I retired from the Navy in 1986, as a Rear Admiral.

    (Everything in double quotes is a direct quotation by Grace Hopper.)

  15. I would like to include Émilie du Châtelet. In some films maybe she played a minorrole (I don’t know). Unfortunately in many films Voltaire is a puppet (in “Mein Name ist Bach” for example) and not the genius he actualy was.

    I would like to see something about Dorothea Erxleben (first German doctor) too. The Story of Dorothea Schlözer would be mostly too sad for the cinema and not entertaining enough.

Comments are closed.

Discover more from Frock Flicks

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading