GirlGeek of the Week
When I was little I really wanted to go to Mars.
I loved science fiction and I loved math. But when I turned thirteen
I developed a raging social consciousness and veered towards writing
and photography, becoming editor of a weekly newspaper when I was
Spending a very cold winter in a small mountain town and experiencing
the high cost of heat energy re-ignited my interest in physics and
math, so I went back to school with the intent of becoming a mechanical
engineer. Two things got in my way: Einstein's theory of general
relativity, and a Commodore 64 computer. I learned programming as
any engineering student must, but when I programmed a numerical
solution to the Schrodinger equation of quantum mechanics in BASIC
on my little Commodore 64 (with my 13 inch color TV as the monitor)
I was hooked on both computing and on theoretical physics.
When the Web came around, I was working on a NeXT, doing gorgeous
graphics of mathematical equations using the math application Mathematica.
I decided to put my work on the web, and my first home page quickly
grew to be an entire home web site. The URL is http://theory.caltech.edu/people/patricia/.
It was so much fun, I realized I could never devote myself to a
normal career in academia. So now I'm building a physics school
on the web, to be called The Internet School of the Universe.
When did you first discover your love and/or
obsession with computers and technology?
My little Commodore 64, with no memory or monitor, was my first
computer love. But I still miss my NeXT. That was the greatest computer
love of my life.
How do you earn a living?
The Internet School of the Universe is still in the pre-revenue
phase. My husband is my angel funding right now.
Do you consider yourself a Geek?
I programmed the Schrodinger equation in BASIC on a Commodore
64. There's only one word to describe someone who would do that.
What is your favorite Web site?
One of the most interesting topics I have found
elaborated on the web is ancient women's history. For example, the
Center for the
Study of Eurasian Nomads, run by Jeannine Davis-Kimball,
has a fascinating article about ancient warrior women whose graves
were discovered along the southern border of Russia. Another good
one is 9000
Years of Anatolian Woman.
What do you do when you are not working?
For the last several years I have found myself
reading a lot of history, especially the history of women. I highly
recommend the book Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years, by archaeologist
Elizabeth Wayland Barber. It's about the history of textiles. The
loom was the first complex programmable technology, and it was controlled
and developed by women. This is an amazing book!
I also like to ski, garden, cook, and hang out with my dog.