Notes in the Margin: Beatrice Tinsley

By Carol Feltes

Beatrice Tinsley (Wikipedia)
Beatrice Tinsley (Wikipedia)

In recent years, it has been so gratifying and interesting to see female scientists finally revealed, their contributions to knowledge noted, and the tribulations of their careers in a gender-biased bureaucracy made known. Princeton Press’s new book, Heart of Darkness: Unravelling the mysteries of the invisible universe, brings us a story of modern cosmology and many of its lesser known players, including Beatrice Tinsley.   Tinsley was so frustrated with an establishment that refused to acknowledge her own contributions to research (she was the wife of an academic), that she ultimately divorced her husband and gave him custody of the children in order to have her work recognized.   Heart of Darkness is not strictly biographical; it tells the story of the science, bringing in the people and their contributions along the way.  Tinsley is notable, because she made fundamental contributions to what we know about galaxies and the universe – and then died of cancer at age 40, the year she finally made full professor at Yale.


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