Lynn, mother of Gaia

January 9th, 2012

A doyenne of science passed away, a diva of earth is silent. A maestro of microbiology died last week, a guru of geosciences is with us no more. And the world hardly shed a tear.

On 22 Nov 2011 Lynn Margulis, Microbiologist and prof of Geosciences at U Massachusetts died of a hemorrhagic stroke. On the internet I found a short announcement a few days later. She was a graduate of UC Berkeley. She was the wife of Cosmos guru Carl Sagan. Shall we ever forget those dazzling ideas and that captivating voice? She had 3 sons and 1 daughter, and “I quit my job as a wife twice,” she once said about the difficulties of balancing science and domestic life. “It’s not humanly possible to be a good wife, a good mother and a first-class scientist. No one can do it — something has to go.” Her supreme and extraordinary mothering skills are perhaps proved in the way she collaborated with her son Dorion  to publish scientific books containing her controversial ideas in more acceptable and ’softer’ approach to the general public. Her children all excelled professionally. They all honored her skills.

She also was known, somewhat controversially, as a collaborator and supporter of James E. Lovelock, whose Gaia theory states that Earth itself is something of a living organism. Atmosphere, geology and organisms form a self-regulating system, maintaining the conditions that allow its perpetuation. Earth itself is alive. Our Mother Earth. Gaia. And her endosymbiontic theory, that eukaryotic cells developed through symbiosis of prokaryotic cells, organelles like mitochondria and choroplasts originated as symbiotic bacteria, was rejected 15 times… 15 journals… before being accepted for publication. She never quite received the recognition she deserved for her great theories. She did get a Science Medal. She deserved a Nobel Prize.

She considered her ideas not ‘controversial’, she considered them ‘right’. She gave the world the female view of evolution, where competition and blood in the fight for survival of the fittest is replaced by symbiosis and collaboration. A peaceful approach for growth and excellence. A ‘do-unto-others’ view of life. And Gaia smiled gently at her vision and efforts, welcoming the struggles to find her laws.

A synopsis by one reporter caught my eye  lynn_margulis_evolutionary_biologist_obit