Hertha Marks Ayrton was a total badass. Google just honored her in an awesome way.

Never heard of Hertha Marks Ayrton? That's OK. Neither had I. But let me tell you why I'll definitely be remembering her.

Ayrton would have been 162 today, so Google decided to honor her with a Doodle designed by artist Lydia Nichols.


Image from Google.com

Ayrton was the first woman to present a scientific finding to the esteemed British Royal Society, way back in 1904.

A painting of Ayrton. Image from Mme. Darmesteter/Wikimedia Commons.

This is the same society that heard presenters like Charles Darwin and Michael Faraday (one of the great founders of modern electric knowledge).

Ayrton's work was "The Origin and Growth of Ripple-mark," which helped explain ripple marks, those weird lines on beaches.

Image from Margaret W. Carruthers/Flickr.

If that seems silly, this is no eighth-grade science experiment. Fluid dynamics is incredibly weird and difficult, but Ayrton was a powerhouse of math and physics knowledge. Her discovery helped us better understand how fluids like air and water move, which affects things from water delivery to electric turbine design.

This wasn't Ayrton's only contribution to science.

Image from A. Rintel/Wikimedia Commons.

At the turn of the century, a new form of lighting had hit Britain: the electric arc lamp. The lights were bright and dependable but also had a weird tendency to hiss when they were turned on.

Well, it was Ayrton who figured out what that noise was. In 1899, she presented a paper, "The Hissing of the Electric Arc," to Britain's Institute of Electrical Engineers. She explained that the noise was from craters forming in the lamp's carbon rods. Two days later, they elected her as their first female member.

Unfortunately, the scientific community sometimes tried to hold her back because of her gender.

In 1901, she wrote another paper about electric arcs and tried to present it to the Royal Society. But the society had a man present her work instead.

"An error that ascribes to a man what was actually the work of a woman has more lives than a cat," she once said — a quote that I think might resonate with a lot of other female scientists.

Nevertheless, Ayrton continued to make significant contributions to electrical engineering.

She was never one to let people hold her back because of her gender, though. She was a keen supporter of women's suffrage in England.

A suffrage meeting in England circa 1908. Image from The New York Times/Wikimedia Commons.

She took part in a lot of marches and demonstrations, was a member of the Women's Social and Political Union, and either founded or help lead many other suffrage societies. She also opened her home to women who had been jailed after demonstrations and hunger strikes.

She was also a prolific inventor, and her inventions saved lives in World War I.

Image from Ernest Brooks/Wikimedia Commons.

By the time she died, she had 26 different patents under her belt. In 1915, Ayrton invented a fan that saved soldiers from the poisonous gas weapons of World War I.

Over 100,000 fans were sent to the battlefield.

Hertha Marks Ayrton was an awesome engineer, mathematician, physicist, inventor, and proponent of women's suffrage.

It kind of sucks that more people haven’t heard of her and that we needed a Google Doodle to find out about her. But it's still pretty powerful to see a big, public reminder of the huge number of amazing women who have had an impact on our world.

More
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

For most of us, the hypothetical question of whether we would stick with a boyfriend or girlfriend through the trials of cancer and the treatments is just that – a hypothetical question. We would like to think we would do the right thing, but when Max Allegretti got the chance to put his money where mouth is, he didn't hesitate for a second.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular