Dr. Beatrice Tinsley #WHM21 #WomensHistoryMonth #WomenInSTEM

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Tinsley

Beatrice Muriel Hill Tinsley was an astronomer and cosmologist whose research made fundamental contributions to the understanding of how galaxies evolve with time, via WomenYouShouldKnow

Dr. Beatrice Tinsley lived on our resolutely turning planet for only four decades, but in that time she gifted us a vision of the cosmos as dynamic and expanding even in those places it appears most placidly serene. She plucked galaxies from the pantheon of static celestial objects and showed us, through a rigorous combination of chemistry, mathematics, physics, and state of the art machine computation, how these creatures are likely born, how they age and interact with one another, and what their fate will ultimately be. She was the passionate nerve-center of the world’s cosmological efforts, connecting everyone to everyone through the medium of her encyclopedic memory for facts and people, and when she was gone, there was simply nobody to fill the void. We had Tinsley, and then we did not, and astronomy was long in recovering from the transition.

The career of Beatrice Muriel Hill (1941-1981) spanned fourteen short years, from 1967 to 1981, but so intense was her passion for astronomy, so keen her basic need to work and discover, that she managed to forge the towering reputation of an elder scientific statesman in that brief span. There are people who take time to slowly develop their gifts and become the scientist they were meant to be, and others who explode out of the gate, shouting their skill from the first moment they turn their brain to the tangles and wonders of the world, and Tinsley was decidedly the latter. She tried everything, and succeeded at whatever she tried. She was a classical violinist who played chamber and orchestral music, a prize winner in Latin and French, and a lover of mathematics who sat in the back of the class just so she wouldn’t be distracted while she taught herself more advanced mathematics than her classes could provide for her hungry brain.

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