896: Marie Curie

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Marie Curie
Although not permanently.
Title text: Although not permanently.
File:Marie Curie c1920.jpg
Portrait of Marie Curie. (from Wikimedia Commons)

[edit] Explanation

Marie Curie was a pioneering research scientist, most famous for her work with radiation, and in isolating Radium, and Polonium. She died from aplastic anemia contracted from exposure to radiation from the extremely radioactive isotopes of Radium and Polonium that she would carry around in her pockets, though the title text implies the radiation also helped her come back as Zombie Marie Curie.

The conversation between Ponytail and Marie refers to the fact that Marie is often singled out as the only significant female scientist. Marie points out that this is a poor version of the truth, for two reasons. Firstly, there have been many other significant female scientists, and secondly, Marie asserts that the most significant events in theoretical physics and mathematics do not arise because of an individuals desire for fame, but from passion for the subject and a great deal of dedication and hard work.

The comic gives examples of Lise Meitner and Emmy Noether. Meitner was one of the major contributors in the discovery of nuclear fission for which her male colleague Otto Hahn was awarded a Nobel Prize. As a somewhat late consolation, the element Meitnerium was named after her. (She is later mentioned in 1584: Moments of Inspiration). Noether's Theorem is widely considered one of the most beautiful and significant theorems in abstract algebra, and its repercussions are still being widely explored to this day.

Marie asserts at the end that Ponytail is not alone--perhaps in reference to the fact that, as mentioned, female scientists might be less likely to receive medals or other tokens of support and encouragement.

Ponytail begins by stating that her teacher taught her to aspire to be the next Marie Curie. A disturbed 'Zombie Marie Curie' awakens and informs Ponytail that she is not the only influential woman scientist, citing the examples of influential scientists Meitner and Noether. She continues to tell Ponytail not to think of herself as the next anyone, but rather to make her own way and rely on previous women scientists for support rather than as role models. Lastly, she warns Ponytail against exposure to radium, a radioactive element discovered by Curie and extremely dangerous, being responsible for Curie's own death. The title text makes reference to Curie's state as a zombie, because this implies her death was temporary.

[edit] Transcript

[Ponytail is looking at a picture of Marie Curie.]
Ponytail: My teacher always told me that if I applied myself, I could become the next Marie Curie.
Zombie Marie Curie (off-screen): You know, I wish they'd get over me.
[Inserted frame in the first panel with a close up of Ponytail who turns around.]
Ponytail: Zombie Marie Curie!
[Zombie Marie Curie is walking towards Ponytail.]
Zombie Marie Curie: Not that I don't deserve it. These two Nobels ain't decorative. But I make a sorry role model if girls just see me over and over as the one token lady scientist.
[Close up of Zombie Marie Curie.]
Zombie Marie Curie: Lise Meitner figured out that nuclear fission was happening, while her colleague Otto was staring blankly at their data in confusion, and proved Enrico Fermi wrong in the process. Enrico and Otto both got Nobel Prizes. Lise got a National Women's Press Club award.
Zombie Marie Curie: They finally named an element after her, but not until 60 years later.
[Zoom out to both Ponytail and Zombie Marie Curie.]
Zombie Marie Curie: Emmy Noether fought past her Victorian-era finishing-school upbringing, pursued mathematics by auditing classes, and, after finally getting a Ph.D, was permitted to teach only as an unpaid lecturer (often under male colleagues' names).
Ponytail: Was she as good as them?
Zombie Marie Curie: She revolutionized abstract algebra, filled gaps in relativity, and found what some call the most beautiful, deepest result in theoretical physics.
Ponytail: Oh.
[Close up of Zombie Marie Curie.]
Zombie Marie Curie: But you don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.
[Zoom out to both Ponytail and Zombie Marie Curie.]
Zombie Marie Curie: So don't try to be the next me, Noether, or Meitner. Just remember that if you want to do this stuff, you're not alone.
Ponytail: Thanks.
Zombie Marie Curie: Also, avoid radium. Turns out it kills you.
Ponytail: I'll try.

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I miss the days when zombies would just bite you to death. What's with all this talking? Davidy²²[talk] 02:07, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

It would probably be better if she came back as a ghost. But radiation poisoning in pop lit only explains physically supernatural stuff, not external consciousness supernatural stuff. Zombies, on the other hand, have been used in pop lit as thinking characters, even though they shouldn't have been. 16:49, 3 December 2013 (UTC)Dartania

Too bad Marguerite Vogt is not mentioned. She should have shared the Nobel with Renato Dulbecco, as (relatively) recent as 1975. --Jkrstrt (talk) 20:02, 21 June 2014 (UTC)--Jkrstrt (talk) 20:02, 21 June 2014 (UTC)

Does it not escape your notice that by simply saying "everything else she says is true as well" you are doing the exact thing that this cartoon is trying to emphasise as unfair? In the last cartoon you guys couldn't say enough about the great Richard Feynman but you have reduced the achievements of two great women down to one simple sentence. Well played, I'm sure Randall's proud that you could so clearly see the point he was trying to make. 07:37, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

  • You have the power, 141...94! -- RyanofTinellb (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
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