Innumerable as the Starrs of Night,
Or Starrs of Morning,
Dew-drops, which the Sun
on every leaf and every flouer
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.
E = M
Energy is eternal delight.
Impearls: 2003-06-29 Archive
Labels: Fourth of July
(Damn this New Blogger limitation on posting size!)
It's true that Marie Curie devoted great energies in the pursuit of X-ray technology during World War I — a deadly vocation until proper appreciation for the dangers developed much later. To illustrate this fact along with her later life, I'll quote from Encyclopædia Britannica's description: 1
(As we see below, this last means the action of X-radiation, not action of ionizing radiation as a result of ingestion of Radium.)
Marie Curie, famed to the world as “Madame Curie,” but who began life as Maria Sklodowska in Warsaw, Poland, in what was then the Russian Empire — winner of Nobel Prizes in two highly technical fields (Physics, 1903, which she shared, and Chemistry, 1911, which she did not), a feat almost unheard of for anyone, male or female — passed away 69 years ago this July fourth.
Madame Curie's fame was great earlier in the twentieth century, and she has stood as a towering example for generations of aspiring young scientists female
Why either of these factors should taint her reputation — even given the public's phobia about radio-anything — is hard to understand, but the first as a reason for trivializing the reputation of a scientific giant is ridiculous and risible, I'd say (Marie Curie deserves better than having a cloud placed over her head by public ignorance and prejudice), and now the latter should finally be put to rest as well, as yet another in the large class of urban legends (though perhaps not known to be such until recently).
In 1995 Madame Curie's body was exhumed as part of granting her France's highest honor (first time for a woman, for her own achievements), burial in the French national mausoleum, the Panthéon.
To forestall the possible escape of radioactivity from her body during the process of reburial, France's
Sounds pretty conclusive to me.
However one feels about France at present, whatever jokes might fly in that direction, no one can deny that France knows its nuclear power and ionizing radiation — about 80% of the electrical power needs of France (an advanced industrial nation) are supplied from nuclear sources.
If their ORPI says Curie could not have been exposed to lethal levels of radium while she was alive, I'm tempted to say Q.E.D.
Let's put paid to this urban myth.
And sleep well, Maria Sklodowska Curie.
Impearls: 2003-06-29 Archive
When considering issues of space travel and exobiology (life originating beyond the earth), the question often arises of the dangers of infection of alien biologies by earth organisms or earth biologies by alien organisms, should they come into contact.
The issue here is not ecological contamination (on which I'm silent for the moment), but the internal infection of living beings by other “disease-causing” organisms.
In my considered view, the danger of infectious agents “jumping” into creatures of fundamentally different evolutionary origin (whether going in
Most diseases that we see here on Earth are closely attuned to the life cycle and other intimate aspects of the specific organism they infect.
Pathogens which can transmit much beyond a single species across a broader related group (e.g., rabies) are few; while diseases more typically almost have to be coaxed into jumping from one species into even a closely related one.
The reason is clear: creatures' cells and their immune systems fight like hell against being taken over, and the alien environments of non-adapted-to species (much less the really alien environments of a never seen before, wholly different evolution) are just too difficult for even opportunistic agents to endure, much less triumph.
The probability an Earth organism could infect a creature from a totally different evolutionary origin is thus remote (i.e., the Martians should have won ”The War of the Worlds”).
The converse (alien diseases infecting earthlings) is also quite unlikely — except, that is, in the case of an
After hearing me say that (on a mailing list discussing alternative futures and pasts of Harry Turtledove's books), a correspondent wrote back:
Yes (I replied), people worry about it, and I'm not going to say that precautions aren't in order (just as we might want to take precautions against asteroidal impacts), but the overall probability of running into trouble as a result of (naturally evolved) alien diseases appears quite low. (Fortunately, as the first astronauts' quarantine procedures weren't really all that good.)
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