Today is Ada Lovelace day where we blog about women in the field of science and technology! For those of you not in the know, Ada Lovelace was a minor Victorian noble, and the world’s first programmer — she wrote for Babbage’s Difference Engine. She was also the only child of Lord Byron and his wife Annabella, so she gets some serious lit cred as well. Check out more at Finding Ada.
So, as part of this annual event, bloggers write about women in science and technology — which I’m going to take a small twist on — I’m going to write about a writer. Mary Roach is one of the greatest popular science journalists around, and a fantastic author. I first stumbled across her work with Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, a great book which isn’t so much about the science of sex, but rather how scientists go about studying it. It’s a fascinating distinction, and the piece delves into how scientists struggle against moral police and have to fight for funding in what is actually an incredibly important part of our lives.
What really holds it together is Roach’s writing style. It’s funny, informative, and — above all — easy to understand. As anyone who writes about science knows, making concepts intelligible is the primary concern, and she does it with aplomb. I find her writing similar to Bill Bryson — a compliment by anyone’s metric — in her craftful weaving of the stories of the research, the researchers and herself into an utterly intriguing narrative.
Frankly, the world needs more amazing science writers, and Roach deserves every piece of acclaim that comes her way. Now I need to go track down a copy of Stiff.