Google is celebrating the achievements of the Scottish science writer Mary Somerville with a Doodle today. On this day, in the year 1826, Somerville's experimental physics papers were read by the Royal Society of London. It is Britain's National Academy. Somerville was born on December 26, 1790.
Somerville made history by becoming the first female author to be published in the Philosophical Transactions. The Philosophical Transactions is the world's oldest science publication and is still active today.
Mary Somerville came from a distinguished albeit humble family. At the age of 10, she was sent to boarding school in order to get a proper education. According to reports, it was her, in the boarding school that Somerville began teaching herself astronomy and mathematics. After years of independent research, she was finally able to publish her own scientific papers and books and eventually got published in the prestigious Philosophical Transactions.
Somerville's essay The Mechanism of the Heavens in 1831 completely changed the way the solar system was understood and also laid the groundwork for her book The Connection of the Physical Sciences which was published in 1834. According to sources, The Connection of the Physical Sciences was one of the best selling books of the 1800s and it is believed that it helped astronomer John Couch Adams locate Neptune.
Mary Somerville was also according to sources a great advocate for equal rights for both men and women and was also the first person to sign the 1866 women's suffrage petition. In 2016, in honour of all the work that Somerville had done in the field of astronomy and for paving the way for more women to join the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, they decided to introduce the Mary Somerville Medal and Prize for scientists who engage the public through their work.
The Google Doodle honouring Mary Somerville portrays her sitting on her desk with a few books while she is engaged in her work and the letter has been cleverly designed to each represent some aspects of her work.