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A public conversation about our worlds.

  • Monday: Morgan J. Locke
  • Tuesday: Madeleine E. Robins
  • Wednesday: Maureen F. McHugh
  • Thursday: Bradley Denton
  • Friday: Steven Gould
  • Saturday: Caroline Spector
  • Sunday: Rory Harper

Brain Activity



“To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing.”

March 24th, 2010 by Steven Gould

Yet even she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously reported among the Christian populace, that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop. Some of them therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her by scraping her skin off with tiles and bits of shell. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them.

Socrates Scholasticus 5th century AD

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s not easy being a woman in the sciences.

Hypatia, born somewhere between 350 and 370 AD, died March 415 (see above) was a Greek scholar from Alexandria in Egypt. Considered the first notable woman in mathematics, she also taught philosophy and astronomy. She was killed by a Christian mob who falsely blamed her for local religious turmoil.

Notable quotes:

“Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.”

“Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for under standing those that lie beyond.”

“To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing.”

Happy Ada Lovelace day. Large chunks of above from the Wikipedia article on Hypatia.

Posted in Daily Life | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1. Walter Jon Williams Says:

    This quite from the movie In the Loop might be apropos.

    Toby: We called some builders. They didn’t turn up when they said they would.

    Jamie: What did you expect? They’re builders! Have you ever seen a film where the hero is a builder? No, no, because they never fucking turn up in the nick of time. Bat-builder? Spider-builder? Huh? That’s why you never see a superhero with a hod!

  2. Walter Jon Williams Says:

    You know, that was supposed to go on Caroline’s post.

  3. Steven Gould Says:

    I quite liked it. I suspect Hypatia would have been all over those lazy contractors.

  4. Sarah Stegall Says:

    High-five, for mentioning Ada Lovelace, one of my favorite heroines.

  5. Gregory Feeley Says:

    There is a reference to a lost play by Shakespeare about Hypatia in Pynchon’s MASON & DIXON.

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