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I died for beauty : Dorothy Wrinch and the cultures of science / Marjorie Senechal.

  • Senechal, Marjorie.
[2013], ©2013
  • Books

About this work


"In the vein of A Beautiful Mind, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, and Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA, this volume tells the poignant story of the brilliant, colorful, controversial mathematician named Dorothy Wrinch. Drawing on her own personal and professional relationship with Wrinch and archives in the United States, Canada, and England, Marjorie Senechal explores the life and work of this provocative, scintillating mind. Senechal portrays a woman who was learned, restless, imperious, exacting, critical, witty, and kind. A young disciple of Bertrand Russell while at Cambridge, the first women to receive a doctor of science degree from Oxford University, Wrinch's contributions to mathematical physics, philosophy, probability theory, genetics, protein structure, and crystallography were anything but inconsequential. But Wrinch, a complicated and ultimately tragic figure, is remembered today for her much publicized feud with Linus Pauling over the molecular architecture of proteins. Pauling ultimately won that bitter battle. Yet, Senechal reminds us, some of the giants of mid-century science--including Niels Bohr, Irving Langmuir, D'Arcy Thompson, Harold Urey, and David Harker--took Wrinch's side in the feud. What accounts for her vast if now-forgotten influence? What did these renowned thinkers, in such different fields, hope her model might explain? Senechal presents a sympathetic portrait of the life and work of a luminous but tragically flawed character. At the same time, she illuminates the subtler prejudices Wrinch faced as a feisty woman, profound culture clashes between scientific disciplines, ever-changing notions of symmetry and pattern in science, and the puzzling roles of beauty and truth"--


Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2013], ©2013.

Physical description

ix, 300 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references and index.


Part I. Dorothy Wrinch: 1. Prologue; 2. Culture clash at Cold Spring Harbor; 3. Symmetry Festival; 4. Dot -- Part II. Logics: 5. The Wrangler; 6. Dear Mr. Russell; 7. The Summation of Pleasure; 8. Scientific method -- Part III. Biology in Transition: 9. The Spicules of Sponges; 10. Homes are Hell; 11. Metamorphoses; 12. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest -- Part IV. Proteins and the Imagination: 13. Buzz; 14. The Cyclol Model; 5. What Is She Doing Here?; 16. "Linus and Dorothy," the Opera, with Talkback -- Part V. The Rosetta Stone of the Solid State: 17. Crystals; 18. X-rays and Insulin; 19. Structure factors; 20. Amherst College Wife -- Part VI. I Died for Beauty: 21. The Sequel; 22. Strange Doings at Sandoz; 23. Swan Song; 24. Epilogue -- Cast of Characters -- Appendix.



  • English

Where to find it

  • Location

    History of Medicine BZP (Wrinch)


    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9780199732593
  • 0199732590