Maria Mitchell In Her Own Words

April 20 {1858}  Mrs. Somerville told me that an English gentleman named Joule had advanced the idea of late that heat is motion and that she has enlarged on this in her book and she gave me various anecdotes illustrative of this doctrine.  She remarked also that the science of magnetism had made strides in the last few years . . .

As I have noted here before, Mary Somerville was one of Maria Mitchell’s heroes.  The chance to meet this Scotch woman scientist and science writer was a dream come true for Maria.  Somerville welcomed her with open arms and they met several times during Maria’s visit in Italy where Somerville lived.  The joule is named for English physicist James Prescott Joule who funnily enough lived the same years as Maria – 1818-1889.  He was also – a brewer! – like Matthew Vassar.

JNLF