Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Celebrating Maria's Birthday with Another Honor

Today is the 305th anniversary of the birth of Maria Gaetana Agnesi! I'm happy to share that she received another honor just last month: a satellite named for her. 

On April 14, 2023, Satellogic Inc. deployed four new satellites named for women in STEM, including one honoring Maria. Here is an excerpt from the Satellogic, Inc. announcement:  

The SpaceX Transporter-7 mission was completed Friday, April 14, with a two-stage rocket delivering the four satellites designed and built by Satellogic to orbit. The NewSat Mark-IV models include multispectral cameras designed to collect high-resolution imagery from sun-synchronous low-Earth orbit. Satellogic continued its celebrated tradition of naming satellites after remarkable women in STEM and has named these four spacecraft after Joan Clarke, Annie Jump Cannon, Tikvah Alper, and
Maria Gaetana Agnesi.
For the complete list of the women honored to date, see this page of the Satellogic website.

Happy birthday, Maria!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

International Women in Mathematics Day and Maria Gaetana Agnesi's Birthday

Monday, May 16, 2022 will be the 304th anniversary of the birth of Maria Gaetana Agnesi. I'm posting a couple of days early because I just learned of another, related, celebration that I missed two days ago on May 12: International Women in Mathematics Day

According to this article, the date of May 12 was chosen in 2018:

". . . in honor of Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, born on May 12, 1977, and the first woman to win a Fields Medal, the highest award given by the international mathematical community." 

    Maryam Mirzakhani photo by Maryeraud9, Creative Commons use allowed
Sadly, Maryam Mirzakhani died in 2017 at age 40. She is included in this article listing 14 "Amazing Women in Mathematics."  Maria Gaetana Agnesi is also on the list. I find it interesting that these two women shared May birthdays along with their love of math.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Sharing Another Monument to Maria on International Women's Day

On May 16, 2017, the 300th anniversary of Maria Gaetana Agnesi's birth, she was featured as the "Scientist of the Day" on the Linda Hall Library website. The article, which was written by Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City, includes several interesting photos related to Maria and her life. The final photo is a bust of Maria that is featured on the side of Milan's Palazzo Brentani:

Maria Gaetana Agnesi. Detail from the series of decorative busts (portraying "distinguished Italians") on the facade Palazzo Brentani, in via Manzoni street at Milan. Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto, April 14 2007.

Here's Professor Ashworth's description of the bust:

"The Palazzo Brentani in Milan has a series of 18 portrait plaques that circle the exterior, celebrating important citizens of Milan. Front and foremost, right over the entrance, is Leonardo da Vinci ... , but in the second-best spot, just to the viewer’s left of Leonardo, is a plaque for Agnesi ...."

I'm highlighting the image here today in honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month. This is the perfect time to remember Maria Gaetana Agnesi and all the other unsung women of history.  

For additional photos of Palazzo Brentani, see this page in Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

New Adult Nonfiction Featuring Maria Gaetana Agnesi

I want to post one more quick update to make sure the new email subscription service is working properly. So I'd like to share the title of a new book for adults that mentions Maria Gaetana Agnesi: Forces Of Nature: The Women who Changed Science by Anna Reser and Leila McNeill.

A review in the Albuquerque Journal said "The volume has the heft of a textbook, but it’s a readable history."  I look forward to reading it soon. If you get to it first, let me know what you think.

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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Quick Fun Fact About Maria Gaetana Agnesi

I usually post about the myths associated with Maria Gaetana Agnesi and her family. But today I thought I'd share a fun fact: there's a crater on Venus named in Maria's honor. While I couldn't find a good image of the crater to share, here's one of the planet Venus:

From nasa.gov

You can read more about the crater here.

According to the MacTutor site, two other female mathematicians have Venus craters named for them: Émilie du Châtelet and Sophie Germain. 

Please note: with our new email subscription manager, you can no longer reply directly to post emails.  If you have questions that you don't want to ask via the comments on the blog page, you may contact me through my website.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Update for Email Subscribers

This is a quick post for email subscribers. Google will be discontinuing Feedburner, which was the software that managed this blog's email list. So I'm migrating my email list to follow.it software. If you follow this blog via email, there are two things for you to be aware of:

  1. The "from" field of future emails will now read "follow.it." 
  2. In the first email you receive from me via follow.it, you'll need to confirm that you want to continue receiving content from the Maria Gaetana Agnesi & Family website. 

That's it! 

If you don't currently subscribe to the Maria Gaetana Agnesi & Family website, www.MGAgnesi.com, and you'd like to, sign up here.



Sunday, May 16, 2021

Myth-busting and Celebrating on Maria Gaetana Agnesi's 303rd Birthday

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Maria Gaetana Agnesi in Milan, Italy, on May 16, 1718. Sadly, many myths continue to be perpetuated about Maria. Just yesterday, I found a site that offers a "library of teaching worksheets" for classroom use called KidsConnect. At first, I was pleased to see they include a set of worksheets about Maria. But when I read the sample information, I found it riddled with errors. For example, it includes what I called Myth #1 in one of my earliest posts on this site: "Her father, Pietro Agnesi, was a math professor at the University of Bologna." I debunk that myth here

Another myth on the KidsConnect page is "Maria’s mother’s death made her retire from public life. She stayed at home and manage [sic] the house, and she was the eldest of 21 children." The page also says: "Aside from completing her own lessons and performances, she was also responsible for teaching her siblings. This task kept her from achieving her own goal of entering a convent, as she had become extremely religious." I explain the error behind statements like these in this blog post

I'm especially troubled that these myths are part of information sheets used to instruct children about Maria Gaetana Agnesi. I don't know about the worksheets themselves, but the sample information on the KidsConnect website does not cite any sources. From what I read there, the "facts" seem to have been copied from the Wikipedia entry for Maria Gaetana Agnesi. While Wikipedia does include source references, those sources are unreliable and contain misinformation. That's how these myths keep getting perpetuated. I have sent a message to KidsConnect regarding these issues. We'll see if they respond.

I still hope to publish a nonfiction biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi for young readers that will provide the true story of her life. Meanwhile, I recommend these two references for the most accurate information we have about Maria:

    A Biography of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, an Eighteenth-Century Woman Mathematician by Antonella Cupillari
    The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God by Massimo Mazzotti (You can follow him on Twitter @maxmazzotti)

On a positive note, today I discovered that the Remarkablz site celebrated Maria with a fun Science Superhero Identity and a game card in their Top Quarkz game. You can read all about it here.  

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