I didn’t forget the second part of the answers to the Renaissance People Trivia Quiz!
Answers – Part 2:
6. Which actress is co-author on a neuroscience paper about frontal lobe activation?
Natalie Portman‘s big career breakthrough was the role of Padma Amidala in “Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace”. Shortly after the movie came out, she took an acting break to study Psychology at Harvard. She did undergraduate research in the group of David Boas, and is credited on the project’s publication under her real name.
7. Who photographed several of the attendees of the 1860 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Oxford?
The 1860 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science was the scene of the famous debate between Thomas Huxley and Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford, about Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”. It attracted quite a bit of attention at the time, and one of the audience members was Oxford Mathematician Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) who invited guests to have their picture taken in an outdoor studio he set up for this purpose. He photographed both Huxley and Wilberforce as well as Michael Faraday, who was also present at the meeting. (Image: the picture Lewis Carroll took of Faraday that day.)
8. Who was not allowed to present a botany paper on lichens at the Linnaean Society in 1897, and why not?
Before publishing Peter Rabbit and other children’s stories, Beatrix Potter had already spent years accurately drawing images of nature. As an amateur botanist she supported the at the time unconventional notion that lichens are a symbiotic life form of algae and fungi, and did some kitchen experiments to prove her theories. Unfortunately, Potter never received a lot of support, because her work didn’t match with what the professionals believed at the time. She submitted a paper with her findings to the Linnaean Society in 1897, but as a woman she wasn’t allowed to attend meetings and present her own paper. She was asked to resubmit her paper with more data, but didn’t have time, and the paper was never published. After her death, archives of all her drawings showed that Potter had collected data that weren’t found by others until half a century later.
9. Which company started with chemistry experiments carried out at night in the founder’s mother’s kitchen in upstate New York?
Bank clerk George Eastman was an amateur photographer at a time when photography involved coating a glass plate in chemicals right before taking a photo. This meant having to drag along all kinds of equipment just to take a picture. Eastman had read about gel emulsion plates, which could be prepared beforehand at home, greatly simplifying the photography process. He spent late nights experimenting in his mother’s kitchen to perfect these plates. In 1880 Eastman started a business selling pre-made gel emulsion plates to other photographers and this was the beginning of what we now know as the Kodak company.
(Implied in this answer is the enormous hassle it was for Lewis Carroll to take all those photos at the Oxford meeting in the pre-Kodak year 1860 [Question 7])
10. Which movie director holds university degrees in both Physics and Math?
Film director Paul Verhoeven does everything in duplicate: He has produced both terrible (Showgirls) and great films (Black Book), in both the US and Holland, after studying both Physics and Math at Leiden University. Some websites will wrongly inform you that he has two PhD degrees, but this is a misunderstanding caused by the old name for a Dutch university degree: “Doctoraal” is not a doctorate, but the degree needed to be accepted into a doctorate (PhD) program, and it’s somewhere between an honour’s bachelor and a master’s degree in value. (The university system has since received an overhaul and Holland now offers bachelor and masters degrees just like the rest of the world.)