Spotlight on Scientists: Beatrice Tinsley

(1941-1981)

Wait, Who?

Beatrice Tinsley was one smart lady. She is one of my favourite #WomenInScience and was a ridiculously smart astronomer. She’s a New Zealander, and being an adorable country we have named one of the mountains in the Kepler range (which is named after mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, who determined the laws of planetary motion) Mt Tinsley. She did most of her work in America and was born in England, but she went to school here and did her BSc and MSc at Canty, so that makes her one of us apparently.

So What Did She Do?

Well, to start with, her thesis was pretty impressive, with a great piece of research on how stars and galaxies age. She did a whole bunch of stuff about dark matter and this paper on how stars age is really cool too. (and has a heading “How Stars Die.” which is a useful thing to know.)

And it’s not just us naming things after her and being really excited about how cool she is.  The American Astronomical Society has a Beatrice M Tinsley prize, and the University of Texas has two scholarships named after her: the Centennial Visiting Professorship (for real professors), and Tinsley scholars (for younger researchers).

She had a pretty tough time of it, and eventually left her husband and family to take a professorship at Yale. While working there, she developed cancer, and died in the Yale Infirmary at the age of 40.  She was a determined, analytical, intelligent woman, and certainly deserves to be in the spotlight.

One thought on “Spotlight on Scientists: Beatrice Tinsley

  1. sandra January 26, 2013 / 4:47 pm

    Bright Star: Beatrice Hill Tinsley Astronomer by Christine Cole Catley (note to self, get a third name and become successful!) was published in 2006. Read an article about the book, subject and author here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10402399

    Wikipedia records: The main-belt asteroid 3087 Beatrice Tinsley, discovered in 1981 at Mt John University Observatory near Tekapo, is also named after her.

    Love the blog!

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