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Month: September 2012

Call for cyanotype submissions

We’re loving the beautiful work sent to us by Cid Freitag, a Learning Technologist in DoIT Academic Technology who works in several
visual media and has an avid interest in science, among other topics. Her work
is a stunning example of a process called cyanotype – the same process that Go
Big Read author Lauren Redniss used to depict the life and work of Marie Curie
in Radioactive.
Visual artists: we’re looking for some more cyanotype art pieces
to showcase on the Go Big Read blog throughout the year.  If you’d like to share your work with a wider
audience, please provide the following information.  We would also welcome submissions of other
creative work inspired by or related to Radioactive
Submission details:
Send a photo or digital file of your piece(s) to
All files should be .jpegs sized approximately 2MB or smaller, 813×1056 or 1632×1056.
Include artist name, affiliation (department for
students, faculty and staff; parallel information for community members); title
of work, and year of creation.
Include any information you’d like us to share
about the process used to create the work. 
Please note that ownership/copyright of all
artwork remains with the submitting artist. By submitting your piece to the Go
Big Read email address, you grant us permission to share your work on the Go
Big Read blog.
Work will be posted on the Go Big Read blog as it is received. Follow
the cyanotype tag to follow this special art showcase.
Questions? Email

Cyanotype Work by UW-Madison Artist Cid Freitag

“Waiting for a Train,” Cid Freitag, DoIT Academic Technology. (Click to enlarge)

What does the above image have to do with Radioactive?  Simple: it’s another example of cyanotype, the technique used to create the unique colors, look and feel of the book.  This gorgeous piece was created by Cid Freitag, a Senior Learning Technology Consultant at UW-Madison’s own DoIT Academic Technology.  The aesthetic is decidedly different from that created by Lauren Redniss in Radioactive, demonstrating the diverse array of effects cyanotype can produce. Simpler cyanotype processes are even accessible to children (with
careful supervision), and we’ll be featuring a series about cyanotype this year. 

Below, Cid elaborates on her process using “1980s technology – a combination of darkroom and professional graphic arts equipment.” 

Process used to create “Waiting for a Train.”  (Cid Freitag, 1988)

  • 35mm black and white negatives enlarged and printed on Kodalith at intended final size.
  • Developed with FineLine developer, which gave a mezzotint-like texture.
  • Using a punch-registry system, the Kodalith positives assembled into place in carrier sheets.
  • Unwanted parts of each positive covered with masking paper or paintable opaque.
  • Final negative produced by compositing the positives using the punch-registry system and contact printing vacuum frame.
  • Cyanotype emulsion (ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide) applied to Rives BFK paper.
  • Cyanotype exposed with carbon arc lamp in contact printing vacuum frame.
  • Exposure approximately five minutes.

Women in science at UW-Madison

The Curies (image source)
It is difficult to decipher whether Marie Curie is more famous as a scientist, or as a female scientist.  Obviously, these two things are not mutually exclusive; but when Madame Curie was working, they may as well have been.  While she was not the only female scientist in the field during her lifetime, women in science were still a rare sight in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, largely excluded from many of the major universities and laboratories.  Yet Marie, through the simple fact of being industrious, brilliant and female, made great strides toward gender equality in the sciences.  It would have been difficult to argue convincingly, even in a time when women were expected to stay at home and raise the children, that a scientist of Marie Curie’s caliber ought to give up her important pioneering research because she happened to be female. 
Marie left some pretty big shoes to be filled by the female scientists of future generations; but, according to this UW-Madison News article, those shoes are being filled every day by women here at UW-Madison.  According to the article, between 2000 and 2011, the biological sciences have seen an increase from 19% to 28% in female faculty, while physical sciences have gone from a 9% female faculty to 16% in the same period.  But Donna Paulnock, Associate Dean for Biological Sciences in the Graduate School, points out that the idea is not just to hire more women and even out a gender ratio:
“The goal is having as many women as possible in any pool of applicants
so we can evaluate them according to their accomplishments, and hire the
best person.”

The article also points out some roadblocks that face women in the sciences, and how those can be overcome, as well as some programs and initiatives put in place to encourage women and girls toward a scientific career.

As Marie Curie has proven, genius doesn’t discriminate by gender; and with more intelligent, accomplished scientists, male and female, working and researching and inventing and making discoveries, the result can only lead to greater innovation–which is better for all of us.

Brooke Williams, graduate student

Playing Radioactive games

It’s Friday, and what’s more, it’s a cold, gray, drizzly Friday.  Hopefully, the weekend will bring us some nice weather, so we can get out and enjoy the slowly-changing leaves and all those other lovely autumn things (after all, today officially marks the start of the new season!). But for now, it’s Friday, and it’s the perfect kind of day to spend inside.

With that said, I’m going to point everyone in the direction of this beautiful website, which has been on the blog before.  For those who haven’t checked it out yet, the site is a collaboration between the New York Public Library and Parsons the New School for Design.  Intended to work with last year’s exhibit at the famous public library on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue in New York City, the website is very much in the aesthetic of the book, but also includes videos, games and other interactive features.

With the “Curiograph,” you can make your own (digital) cyanotype images in just a few short steps; you can also explore the Curies’ laboratory, simulated with items from the NYPL’s collections, and watch a video on how to make a real cyanotype print.

(And if you’re interested in doing so, then I’m also going to point you over here, to information about a cyanotype workshop that’s coming in October, hosted by the Madison Public Library and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art!)

My personal favorite game, however, is the Raidon Game: follow various mini-missions to collect all the crystals needed and deliver them to the Curies.  It’s a little like living inside the world of the book, if only for a few minutes.

So there you have it.  The best way to spend a rainy Friday afternoon?  Easy answer: playing Radioactive games with Pierre and Marie!

Have fun!

Brooke Williams, grad student assistant for Go Big Read

Exploring the Wisconsin Science Festival: Radioactive READing

The Wisconsin Science Festival opens September 27-30 at venues
across the state. To celebrate, campus libraries are highlighting a couple of
university library-related events and exhibitors with a special series
called Exploring the Wisconsin Science Festival

The background in the new Bucky READ poster might look pretty familiar, particularly if you’ve been paging through Radioactive by Lauren Redniss, this year’s Go Big Read title.

Dying to snag one of these posters for your dorm room, office, or classroom? Send a note to or stop by the Ask-a-Science Librarian table at next week’s Wisconsin Science Festival.
Posters come in two sizes: 18×24″ or 9×12″

Post from UW-Madison Libraries News & Events 
Writer: Laura Damon-Moore 

DesignLab creates their own Radioactive images

DesignLab will be supporting projects associated with this year’s Go Big Read program.  During training boot camp, the DesignLab TAs each produced a response to the content and aesthetics of Radioactive by responding to one of the stories or sections of the book by creating an additional page or layout of a 2-page spread.

DesignLab is located in College Library, room 2250.  To find out more or to make an appointment with a TA, check out the DesignLab website here.  In the meantime, enjoy these gorgeous Radioactive-themed pages.  (Click to enlarge–it’s worth it!)

“Eusapia,” Dominique Haller

“Scintillating,” Melanie Wallace

“Glo Paint,”T.J. Kalaitzidis

“The Other Curie,” Erin Schambereck


“Radioactive Articles,” Steel Wagstaff


“Radioactive Man,” Mitch Schwartz

“Family,” Kevin Gibbons

“Conversation,” Dan Banda

Content Submitted by Rosemary Bodolay
Associate Director for Design Lab

“Go Big Read marries art and science”

 Image courtesy of Harper-Collins

Today’s Inside UW-Madison, the university’s newsletter for faculty and staff, includes this fantastic article by Jenny Price about Radioactive.  It’s a great discussion of one of the best things about this year’s Go Big Read pick: its widespread appeal.  Radioactive is not just a science book, although it deals with plenty of science; it’s not just an art book, although it’s certainly very artistic; and it’s not just a biography, although it certainly sheds light on Marie Curie’s private life.  Below, my favorite quote from the article:

The book is an arresting mash-up of art and science, with cyanotype images and luminous pages contributing to the emotional impact of a story about the human side of innovation and discovery.

Maybe that’s why Radioactive is so interesting to so many people: it’s a human story.  And of course that means the book can’t be just any one thing, because people aren’t just any one thing, either.

The article also talks about how members of the faculty will be incorporating the book into their courses, from introductory biology to journalism.  Have you gotten your copy yet?

Posted by Brooke Williams, (new) grad student assistant at the Go Big Read program