Are physicists a priesthood excluding women on age-old grounds that women can't be ``ordained''? So argues Wertheim, Australian- educated physicist/mathematician cum science writer. Taking the long view, she traces the role of women in mathematics and physics through the ages, starting with the Pythagoreans. Apparently there were women Pythagoreans; however, by the time of Aristotle women were declared inferior. Wertheim is to be complimented for bringing to light the stories of the females who tackled physics, astronomy, and mathematics (and the men who encouraged them): Hypatia of Alexandria; the 14th-century Christine of Pisan; Tycho Brahe's sister Sofie. But societal forces all but forbade female participation in natural science: the closure of universities to women; the imposition of celibacy on priests and university dons; not to mention the prevailing dichotomy that posited men as abstract thinkers and women as bound with the material world. Slowly but surely this has changed, nearly everywhere but in physics, according to Wertheim. Physicists are the new priests, she declares, as witness their popular writings: Stephen Hawking alludes to the Mind of God, and others espouse Theories of Everything. But here Wertheim is assuming a unity that does not exist. Many physicists find TOEs an illusory game, if not a bore. So the reason why fewer women than men get Ph.D.s in physics today is more a question of secular trends and where the jobs are: Female Ph.D.s in physics and math are increasing, but at a slower rate than female M.D.s; the numbers of women getting degrees in engineering and computer sciences are also lowfields where theology hardly pertains. But while her basic premise on physics as theology overstates the case, Wertheim's text has other merits: She brings to light fascinating details of the lives and times of many exceptional women and men who have helped shape our current worldview.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8129-2200-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1995

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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