The Sirens of Science

Jemma Simmons, Abby Sciuto, and Osgood

Jemma Simmons, Abby Sciuto, and Osgood

They talk about the muses whenever they talk about the Fine Arts, and yet the muses were also supposed to inspire the sciences – not that Science was called Science at the time. In reality, the only muse to have anything to do with science was Urania, great-granddaughter of Uranus, who was the muse of Astronomy. Her sister muses were all in charge of dance and ballads and epic poetry, music and poor all Urania went in for star gazing.

So, it seems only right and proper that Science gets to have proper muses, or as I prefer to think of them, sirens. But instead of luring men to their death with sultry songs, Science Sirens lure men and women into a world where logic and rational thought triumph over ignorance. These are some seriously attractive women.

I was inspired into thinking about Science Sirens by some of the more interesting scientists decorating our television screen: Abby Sciuto from NCIS, Osgood from Doctor Who, Penny Garcia of Criminal Minds, and Dr Jemma Simmons from Marvel’s Agents of Shield. These aren’t the only portrayals of smart and sassy scientists of the female variety, but they are my personal favourites. And before you jump all over me for including Penny, who is a technical analyst with no formal degree, she is also a genius hacker and I am not one to hold a person’s lack of a formal education against them. All four of them have been given interesting lives outside of their interest in Science.

Osgood was probably the closest to a stereotype, but then again, she has the most limited screen time of the four characters as well. She is a science advisor for Alien technology (and a Doctor Who fangirl), so I’m running with her being the Siren for Astrophysics, Quantum Physics, and Xenobiology. Her role as a science advisor also makes her the Siren for Science Writing.

Abby is the Siren for Forensic Science and Chemistry, of course. She has a PhD in Chemistry, and degrees in criminology and forensic science. I’m tempted to plonk a few more sciences on her plate, as in television land every science is an expert in multiple fields, but that is quite sufficient for any demi-goddess. Her laboratory – in the basement – can be where science deniers can meet a face worse than death – Abby explaining to them why they are wrong.

Penny can be the Mathematics and Computer Science Siren, and I see her surrounded by a halo of computer screens. As computer science is a very broad field, and one that broadens further every day, she might have to have supporting cherub or two to assist her (Kevin might make a good cherub). People tend to confuse computer scientists with computer technicians, so she also needs a sword to discourage time-wasting requests.

Gemma has her degrees in bio-chemistry, so she is automatically the Siren for Biology and Organic Chemistry (biology and chemistry is a big enough field to need two muses without overlap). Again, she has suffered from a bit of ‘expert in everything’ characterization, but not as badly as Abby. Her cherub-assistant would most certainly have to be Fitz.

Can you imagine the team these four would make? But we are missing an engineer. Oh, Kaylee Frye from Firefly would be perfect! She has a natural talent for mechanic and engineering, and if someone said to her that girls are supposed to bad at anything mechanical, Kaylee would be sweet and polite and tell them to go soak their heads. Her temple music would be the clang of her shiny tools.

So there we go, five STEM muses to coordinate with the traditional muses. I’m sure that poor Urania must be tired of hauling the load all by herself. This new team of women are ready to inspire a love of Science in the hearts of even the most rational minds.

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1 Comment

Filed under Science, Women in Science

One response to “The Sirens of Science

  1. An Abby inspired character duly showed in on Holby City on BBC1 but I haven’t seen any others

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