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Homo History 101: The Scientists Edition

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Today, lesbigaytransqueer people are making contributions in every branch of the physical, social, natural, engineering, and computer sciences. Many noted scientists of the past have also had extended homoerotic or homosexual relationships throughout portions or all of their lives. Some examples:

Raymond Tomlinson (1941 –2016) was a pioneering American computer programmer who implemented the first email program on the ARPANET system, the precursor to the Internet, in 1971 It was the first system able to send mail between users on different hosts connected to ARPANET. Previously, mail could be sent only to others who used the same computer. To achieve this, he used the @ sign to separate the user name from the name of their machine, a scheme which has been used in email addresses ever since.

The symbol “@” has become so ubiquitous in our culture that the MoMa”s Department of Architecture and design added the symbol into its collection in 2010.

Tomlinson was born in Amsterdam, New York. He attended Broadalbin Central School. Later he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York where he participated in the co-op program with IBM. He received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from RPI in 1963. He then entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to continue his electrical engineering education. At MIT, Tomlinson worked in the Speech Communication Group and developed an analog-digital hybrid speech synthesizer as the subject of his thesis for the master's degree in electrical engineering, which he received in 1965. He is internationally known and credited as the inventor of the email. Tomlinson said he preferred "email" over "e-mail", joking in a 2010 interview that "I’m simply trying to conserve the world’s supply of hyphens" and that "the term has been in use long enough to drop the hyphen”. In 2002 Discover magazine awarded him its Innovation Award.

In 2004, he received the IEEE Internet Award.

In 2009, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias award for scientific and technical research.

In 2011, he was listed 4th in theMIT150 list of the top 150 innovators and ideas from MIT.

In 2012, Tomlinson was inducted into the The Internet Hall of Fame which in its account of his work commented "Tomlinson's email program brought about a complete revolution, fundamentally changing the way people communicate".

He lived in Massachusetts and raised miniature sheep with his partner.

Allan Cox (1926-1987) – American Geophysicist, specialist in paleomagetism, and author of two well-known books on plate tectonics. Cox and his colleagues developed a calendar showing the complicated and irregular schedule of polarity changes in the earth’s past, and discovered evidence of plate tectonics. His work brought him many honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Geophysical Union’s Fleming medal.

Jim Pollack (1938- 1994) – American astrophysicist, senior space research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center. Pollack was a world-renowned expert in the study of planetary atmospheres and particulates whose work led to many advances in our understanding of the solar system. He and Carl Sagan postulated that the seasonal color variations on Mars were caused by wind storms and dust, rather than plant life. He specialized in evolutionary climate change of terrestrial planets, and evolution of the giant gas planets.

Bruce Voeller (1934- 1994) – American biologist and AIDS researcher who pioneered the use of nonoxynol-9 as a spermacide and topical virus-transmission preventative. He established the Mariposa foundation to conduct human sexuality research, placing special emphasis on reducing the risks of sexually transmitted diseases. At the time of his death, Voeller’s research centered on the reliability of various brands of condoms in preventing the spread of diseases, and on viral leakage studies for the then-recently approved “female condom”.

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) – British Nurse, organized the world’s first school for nurses, expert and reformer for hospital hygiene, sewage treatment, and regularized medical practices, as well as making advances in the graphical presentation of statistical data. She became the first woman ever to be awarded the Order of Merit by the British government. Nightingale played a vital role in the opening up of legitimate careers for women outside the home and, in this way, helped create the social and economic conditions that made the modern lesbian (and heterosexual working woman) possible.

Margaret Mead (1901-1978) – American anthropologist and psychologist, author of Coming of Age in Samoa, and Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History. While President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1975 she presided over the passage of a AAAS policy statement deploring discrimination against gay and lesbian scientists. Mead helped pioneer, through cross-cultural studies, greater understanding for the natural variety of sexual behaviors that occur in human societies.


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