WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

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Woman of the Week – Barbara Askins

Posted October 07, 2019 4:30 PM by lmno24

For the next few months, we’ve decided to dig into the CR4 archives and expand upon some blog posts from 2007. Back then, we published a series of lists of women inventors and now we will write full blog posts about those who have yet to be featured. Do you know of a great person to be a subject? Let us know!

Barbara Askins helped us see more than we ever thought possible. Askins worked as a physical chemist for many years at NASA.

After college, she went to work at the Marshall Space Flight Center, where she was tasked with finding a way to improve the astronomical and geological photos that astronauts were taking in space. The photos were coming back blurry and without much definition.

She figured out a way to use radioactive materials to enhance the photograph negatives. Her process involved making an image silver radioactive then adding a second emulsion to that radiation. The resulting print became known as an autoradiograph and helped increase the limits of photographic detection. It became extremely useful for looking into deep space as well as viewing the geology of other planets in the solar system.

The invention also helped tremendously in the medical field. It prompted improvements in development of X-ray images and made X-rays that were previously unreadable visible to the eye.

An example of how her invention worked is shown here.

On July 18, 1978, Askins received U.S. patent No. 4,101,780 for a "Method of Obtaining Intensified Image from Developed Photographic Films and Plates." It also helped restore old photographs.

Just a year after getting the patent, she was named National Inventor of the Year by the Association for Advancement of Inventions and Innovations. She was the first woman to earn this consideration.

Askins was born in 1939 in Belfast, Tennessee. She started her career as a teacher. When her children went to college, she decided to do the same. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Chemistry before accepting the job at the Marshall Space Center.

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Guru

Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1454
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#1

Re: Woman of the Week – Barbara Askins

10/08/2019 3:52 AM

I would love to see the enhanced astrological pictures. May we have some examples?

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Power-User

Join Date: Nov 2016
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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Woman of the Week – Barbara Askins

10/08/2019 8:28 AM

I've added what I was able to find into the post. More examples were tough to find but this X-ray picture shows it pretty well, I think. Thank you for reading!

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Guru

Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1454
Good Answers: 30
#3
In reply to #2

Re: Woman of the Week – Barbara Askins

10/11/2019 12:34 PM

I think you misunderstood. There is a distinct difference between astrology and astronomy, so i was hoping you could offer me some ghost images

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Power-User

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Posts: 224
#4
In reply to #3

Re: Woman of the Week – Barbara Askins

10/11/2019 1:33 PM

Perhaps in time for Halloween I can figure that one out :)

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