Thursday, April 10, 2008

# 10 Sweet Nothings


So, what did Asaph and Chloe speak of in their early hours, over breakfast, heads together, the eggs and oatmeal congealing in the bowls, coffee cooling, toast growing cold? Did he mention, in passing, how he had discovered this tiny Martian moon, a mere
eighteen or so kilometers across? Did he mark its triaxial shape with his inkpen upon a napkin, and did she respond by calculating how its mere 27 x 22 x 19 kilometers were equal to 17 x 13 x 12 miles, and did she wonder aloud, if one were standing on the surface of such a tiny world, and gave a great leap, would one escape its gravity and simply keep on going to some far planet of one's own? Did he wonder if a woman in society should avoid education, and concur with the great Doctor Clark of Harvard, whose study concluded that the intellectual development of females would proceed only at the sacrifice of their reproductive organs? When Asaph turned away to butter his cold toast, did she spit in his cold coffee, and go upstairs to stand at the window, looking out?

(NOTE: Asaph Hall discovered the two moons of Mars. Chloe Angeline Stickney, a professor of mathematics, gave up her career when she married him. He had been a student of hers, and he and his classmates made a game of devising questions and problems they were convinced she could never solve, yet she never failed to solve them. After their marriage, when he refused to pay her "a man's wage" for assisting him, she refused to continue her work. Three cheers for Chloe!)



Jo said...

This is simply superb, I loved it. It's a beautiful tribute, a hymn. Gorgeous. And I love the sound of her.

UL said...

yes, me too, you take me places with these prompt responses..lovely.

ren.kat said...

wow! I have never heard of her. It is amazing how many women we never hear about in school. The women who were forced to choose. Thank you for sharing one of those stories (and beautifully, too).