Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Florence Bascomb (1862-1945, July 14), geologist

Alright...something a bit different this time! Geology!

Not only was she the first female hired by the United States Geological Survey, but she was also the first female graduate of John Hopkins University. Apparently she had to sit behind a screen so the men in class wouldn't have to see her (God forbid! A woman! Gadzooks!) She taught at Bryn Mawr (like Nettie Maria Stevens I wrote about before) and developed the geology program there into a full-fledged course of study.

She studied the geomorphology of the Piedmont (a section of the Appalachian Mountains). According to the USGS, her arguments were occaisonally "caustic". As if they would ever note this about a male geologist...

Anyway, moving right along... she is recorded as writing:
"The fascination of any search after the truth lies not in the attainment...but in the pursuit, where all the powers of the mind and character are brought into play and are absorbed by the task. One feels oneself in contact with something that is infinite and one finds joy that is beyond expression in sounding the abyss of science and the secrets of the infinite mind."
Amen to that--and that's as religious as you'll ever see me get.

Oh! And she has a crater on Venus named after can see it here to the right. Awesome.



Crater Database

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