Albert Einstein and Mileva Marić
When Albert Einstein’s private letters were released in 1987, a lot more came to light about his wife, Mileva Marić, who also studied at Zurich Polytechnic (as only the fifth woman in its section for a diploma to teach math and physics). Some speculate that she even helped write some of his most well-known work–including the theory of relativity. At a minimum, she was clearly an important part of his scientific life and a resource he could discuss ideas with. In 1905, she is said to have told a friend regarding the Annus Mirabilis Papers, “we finished some important work that will make my husband world famous.”
Louis and Mary Leakey
Louis and Mary met when he was seeking an illustrator for his book. After becoming a couple (while he was still with his first wife!), they worked together as archaeologists, largely in Africa’s Olduvai Gorge. Together they found stone age instruments as much as two million years old and many important bones, including a one-million-year-old Homo erectus skull in 1965. After her husband’s death, Mary continued the work and went on to discover nearly four-million-year-old fossils, as well as fifteen new species and one new genus.
Isaac and Janet Asimov
Isaac Asimov is a geek icon, thanks to sci-fi works like the Foundation novels and I, Robot. He even coined the word “robotics.” His second marriage was to Janet Jeppson, who was a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and scifi writer herself. She created (with a small assist from her hubby) a series of YA books about Norby the Mixed-Up Robot.
Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker
Does that name sound oddly familiar? Remember back in 1994 when a comet went slamming into Jupiter? That was Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which the couple co-discovered with David Levy. In fact, she holds the record for having discovered the most comets, as well as more than 800 asteroids. She and Eugene received the James Craig Watson Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 1998.
Susan Sontag and Annie Liebovitz
These lovely ladies are cultural geeks each in their own right who have also collaborated, such as on the photo book Women. Independently, Sontag was a political activist noted for both her nonfiction essays as well as her plays and novels. Liebovitz is famous for her stunning portrait photography, such as the 1981 Rolling Stone cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, shot the day of his death; Demi Moore’s pregnant Vanity Fair cover, and more recently Miley Cyrus’s controversial semi-nude Vanity Fair shot.
Who are your favorite geeky couples?
4 thoughts on “For Valentine’s Day: Five great, geeky couples”
I’d include the couple, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) and His Wife (Marie-Anne-Pierrette Paulze, 1758–1836) famously portrayed by Jaques-Louis David here: http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/110000544 While people remember the name of the husband in connection with chemistry, his wife was pretty accomplished in the field herself.
How were Marie and Pierre Curie overlooked for this list?
Because my introductory paragraph appears to have been eaten by a grue. But it originally said something along the lines of “everybody knows about Marie and Pierre.” They inspired my hunt for others!
There is no serious evidence that Mileva Maric (who twice failed the Zurich Polytechnic teaching diploma examinations for her course for teaching physics and mathematics in secondary schools) helped to write some of Einstein’s most well known work such as the 1905 relativity paper. The quoted statement above (“we finished some important work…”) is unreliable third hand hearsay (i.e., local folklore) of something Maric is supposed to have said to her father obtained some sixty years after the event.
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