The climate crusading Greta Thunberg, a famous contemporary target of sexist criticism and misogyny, may be interested to learn of the struggles of Eunice Foote who in 1856 published the first scientific paper to link CO2 and global warming.
One of my favourite obscure journals, The Public Domain Review, in touch with our climate-debating times, has just dusted off Eunice Foote's paper Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun's Rays. It was published in the November 1856 American Journal of Art and Science.
The Review explains that "In a series of experiments conducted in 1856, Eunice Newton Foote - a scientist and women's rights campaigner from Seneca Falls, New York - became the first person to discover that altering the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would change its temperature.
"Foote's seminal experiment was ingeniously homemade. Using four thermometers, two glass cylinders, and an air pump, she isolated the component gases that make up the atmosphere and exposed them to the sun's rays ... Measuring the change in their temperatures, she discovered that carbon dioxide and water vapour absorbed enough heat that this absorption could affect climate."
"[Foote's] discovery of the relationship between carbon dioxide and the Earth's climate has since become one of the key principles of modern meteorology, the greenhouse effect, and climate science. However, no one acknowledged Foote was the first to make this discovery for more than a century, in large part because she was a woman.
"Entirely because she was a woman, Foote was barred from reading the paper describing her findings at the 1856 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Albany, New York. Instead, Professor Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian had the honour of introducing her, announcing that science was 'of no country and of no sex. The sphere of woman embraces not only the beautiful and the useful, but the true.' Perhaps this was Henry's attempt to shield Foote and her findings from sexist criticism ...."
It would not surprise if, just as Greta Thunberg is so often accused of only reading speeches written for her by some grown-up Green Svengali (for she is surely too much of a girly flibbertigibbet to really be as knowledgeable and articulate as she pretends) Eunice Foote was suspected of having lots of (unacknowledged by her) cerebral male help with her paper.
Likell thinking Australian atheists/agnostics I am both appalled and fascinated by our prime minister's extreme religiosity.
My fascinated side, yearning to know him better, has just with joy come across a ripper informative new feature piece online all about glossolalia (speaking in tongues). Members of the famously demonstrative congregations of the PM's Pentecostal church are known for their glossolalia, for, when pumped up into a state of ecstasy, suddenly vocalising excitedly in a mystical kind of language. The essential piece, essential to an understanding of our prime minister, is John Sperry's An Apex of Babble.
For millions of Australians the only consolation of the ghastly federal election result was the thought that we now have a glossolalist prime minister who will surely sometimes speak in tongues. But at the time of writing we are still waiting on tenterhooks for that dramatic entertainment that, when it happens (will it be during a Question Time, at an ecstatic joint press conference with his soulmate Donald Trump?) will focus the attention of an agog world on the political uniqueness of our nation.
John Sperry, a college-age American torn between agnostic scepticism and religious enthusiasm, begins by confiding that "I grew up in a community where the phenomenon of speaking in tongues (called glossolalia by linguists) is more than just some loaves-and-fishes Sunday School curiosity [and is] ... commonplace."
In An Apex of Babble Sperry juxtaposes quotes from scholarly findings about glossolalia with a riveting first-hand description of a glossolalia-enriched Sunday meeting in a "mini-megachurch" in Rhode Island he has recently attended. I urge all Australians to, for homework, read Sperry's piece as preparation for the day when our PM bursts into tongues. Reading it now will leave us better informed, less bewildered.
"Actual speaking in tongues, as practiced in almost 30 per cent of American religious congregations, is a distinctly modern phenomenon," Sperry explains.
It all began in Los Angeles in 1906 when "a group of scandalously interracial Angelenos gathered at a run-down stable ... and began to pray", their prayer erupting into what the Los Angeles Times called a "weird babel of tongues".
"[Today] language experts have occasionally mistaken recordings of glossolalia for a Malayo-Polynesian language. [Linguists note that] all around the world, glossolalic outbursts are of roughly equal length - like a universal bar of music - and the rhythm of these outbursts is commonly trochaic: DAH-dah DAH-dah DAH-dah. Like a stream of water or a bolt of lightning, glossolalia seeks out a path of least resistance."
Prick up your ears, Australians! Watch out for these characteristics, these rhythms, when at last (my bet is it will be while being interviewed by Leigh Sales on 7.30) our glossolalist PM bursts into these linguistic virtual streams of water, of bolts of lightning.
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
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