Monday 12 November 2018

F is for Eponym

It's Science Week!
Epic fail, me. A month ago, I undertook to create an Alphabet of Eponyms. Then we had a progress meeting and objections were made about the sex-ratio. Fairy nuff. We dumped half the patriarchs and scrabbled for things to be included so that we began to approach a 1M:1F ratio. Some of the previous choices were oversights, bias and want of imagination in poor old Bob the Biologist.
  • M is for Mertensian Mimicry is, frankly quite obscure except to nerdnik evolutionary biologists
    • M for Meitnerium, the 109th chemical element, hadn't been discovered when I passed through college in the 1970s. But it's named for Lise Meitner one of the many women in 20thC science who was much less visible than her male colleagues like Otto Hahn who stood on her shoulders to win the 1944 Nobel Prize.
Meitner is well 'ard but some of my other affirmative actions could be derided as from the squidgy end of science. The new list tribs a number of STEM women after whom species have been named. In general when fenaming species, men carry on in their usual objectifying women way - tribbing royalty and celebs rather than actual working women in science. Calypte anna, a hummingbird, for example is homage to Anna Masséna, Duchess of Rivoli. Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Angelina Jolie all have creepy-crawly eponyms. The promotions to eponymhood on my final list, the linked ones having featured on The Blob before, are:
That brings the ratio to 12F:14M = 46% which is better than the representation in the EU parliament. Estonia 55%; Ireland 50%; Malta 67%; Finland 54%; Sweden 55% are the only countries that elected more women to Strasbourg than we promoted to Eponymbourg. I decided that we can do some small-small thing about redressing the eponym imbalance and have instituted a competition:
My suggestions [above] may not be readable on your m.device, so:
  • Chisholm n. a billion3 = 1027 = the number of Prochlorococcus, the world’s most abundant organism, in the ocean. Named for Penny Chisholm their discoverer. Sometimes called a Chisllion to match billion, trillion . . .
  • Hopkins Ratio n. the amount by which office space [see comment] is diminished for female faculty members. Named for Nancy Hopkins who documented the discrepancy in MIT.
  • Cliona v.t. A didactic / mentoring technique in which despairing post-graduate students are encouraged to re-read their first post-graduate lab note book. "I've just been clionaed, I really knew bugger-all two years ago and feel much better about my progress now." Named for Nature Mentor of the Year 2014: Cliona O'Farrelly.

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