Top ten girl geeks
In the second in our series of top ten geeks, we take a look at the geekiest girls throughout history. See if you agree with our nominations...
Photographed numerous times clutching her PSP, and famous for having her Sidekick hacked, Hilton is, in her socialite heart, a geek. Hilton attended the gamer's Mecca, E3, and even stars in her own mobile game, Diamond Quest. Hilton is continually fraternising with fellow geeks in her show The Simple Life, where she often befriends nerdy boys still living with their parents. Hilton popularised the pink Motorola V3 phone and has starred in one of the most downloaded Internet videos of all time. She might look trendy on the outside, but inside this girl is all binary.
Krotoski is widely respected as one of the top girl geek writers. Currently writing reviews for the Guardian and working as a presenter for the BBC, she is an expert in the social psychology of virtual worlds. Krotoski has always been a staunch supporter of girls in gaming, and is said to be working on a white paper titled 'Women in Games'.
An expert in radioactivity (though not its long-term consequences), Curie used to walk around with her pockets stuffed full of test tubes containing radioactive isotopes. She worked in her shed with some of the most dangerous substances known to humanity, and is the only person to have won a Nobel Prize in two different scientific disciplines. She discovered the elements radium and polonium, but so that others could share in her discovery, she did not patent the process she used to isolate the radium element. She died in 1934 due to massive radiation exposure.
Simpson is possibly the world's most famous geek. Admittedly she's fictional, but doesn't that just make her all the more incredibly nerdy? Although Simpson is only 8, she has an IQ of 159, and has been observed to be fluent in Italian, Chinese, Spanish and Swedish. She is an outcast at school on account of her prodigious talents, and often finds it difficult to relate to kids of her age. Simpson's greatest invention is the perpetual motion machine and she is also an expert piano, accordion, bass guitar and baritone saxophone player. In the future, Simpson is expected to become US president.
Shelley shut herself away with a group of writers and intellectuals in a shack near Lake Geneva. Here they embarked on a ghost-story contest, but Shelley failed to find inspiration and went to bed in a huff. That night, however, she dreamt the plot of Frankenstein, the tale of a scientist who brings a monster to life using parts from "the dissecting room and the slaughterhouse". Shelley imagined a science far ahead of her time and her Frankenstein character remains the archetypal geek gone mad.
Franklin was an expert in the structure of DNA and viruses and a keen crystallographer. Her uncle also once attacked Winston Churchill with a dog whip (for unrelated reasons). She went to Cambridge University, but wasn't given a full degree because girls weren't allowed them at the time. Franklin used X-rays to work out the structure of DNA, eventually discovering that helical crystalline DNA (don't ask) did not exist. This meant that she was able to scoff in the faces of other scientists who had mistakenly identified this type of DNA -- and she went so far as to write a comical obituary for the erroneous DNA. Many people believe she was owed a Nobel Prize, but unfortunately she died of cancer before the nominations.
A huge movie buff in her youth, Hannah showed all the early signs of a hardcore geek. Said to have been extremely shy, and diagnosed as 'borderline autistic' according to the All Movie Guide, Hannah is a fiercely intelligent actress. She's starred in some of the most important geek movies of all time including Blade Runner and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. In Blade Runner, Hannah played a replicant named Pris, a "basic pleasure model", who Harrison Ford's character, Deckard, hunts down and kills. Hannah has also designed two board games -- 'Love It or Hate It' and 'Liebrary'. You don't get a whole lot more geeky than that.
Hopper was the quintessential geek. Not content with inventing the Mark I Calculator, she wrote the first compiler (broadly, a piece of software that converts text written in a programming language into more efficient machine code). Her invention led to the creation of COBOL. Hopper's contribution to the world of computers cannot be underestimated: she pioneered the idea of using programming languages that bear some relation to the English language, and then using a compiler to convert these into a form that a computer can rapidly digest. While this idea seems obvious to any modern programmer, in Hopper's day it was a completely original philosophy. She also famously discovered a moth causing a computer to malfunction -- the first recorded case of a real computer bug.
Tereshkova began her life working in a textile factory and ended it as the first woman in space. It was her membership of a local parachute club that put her in the running when the head Soviet rocket engineer felt suddenly compelled to shoot a woman into the heavens. Tereshkova didn't begin her life as a geek, nor was she particularly geeky when she flew into space. After returning to earth, however, she graduated as a cosmonaut engineer, became a doctor of engineering and flew in the Russian Air Force. Tereshkova was pronounced a Hero of Russia, but perhaps the greatest honour bestowed is that she has a crater on the far side of the moon named after her.
And the grande dame of geekery, the prima donna of dorkdom is...
Charles Babbage may have invented the programmable computer, but it was Ada Byron (later Ada Lovelace) who is widely credited with writing the first real program for it. She translated Luigi Menabrea's notes on Babbage's machine from Italian, and added her own ideas on how to calculate Bernoulli numbers using the contraption. These notes came to represent the first piece of computer software ever written.
Byron also saw potential in Babbage's machine that even the inventor himself never fully imagined. She suggested that the device might "compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity and extent". Bands who've used ProTools probably agree with her.
For more geek action check out the first in the series -- top ten nerds and geeks.