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To ring in 2021, we want to celebrate some of the greatest minds in science — folks who have contributed to our understanding of the world and in some cases saved lives along the way!

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Original episodes and sources:

Great Minds: Mary Anning, "The Greatest Fossilist in the World"

Great Minds: Margaret Hamilton

The Woman Who Changed Drug Development

Bugs Aren't Brainless! | Great Minds: Charles Henry Turner

Alice Hamilton: The Doctor Who Made Work Safer | Great Minds

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The New Year is almost upon us. And to ring in 2021, we wanted to celebrate some of the greatest minds in science. Folks who have contributed to our understanding of the world, and in some cases saved lives along the way. 

So sit back, relax and get ready to be blown away by some of the most significant researchers in history. First to go way back in the SciShow archives, and pretty far back in actual history, we have got Marie Anning, whose scientific carrer got started because she happened to have the coolest backyard ever. Here is 2014 Hank with more. 

Mary Anning was born in 1799 to relatively poor parents on the Southern coast of Britian. Their backyard ran into the cliffs at Lyme Regis; an area now renowned for its wealth of amazing jurassic era fossils. Back then fossil collecting was done by amateurs, sometimes as a hobby other times for profit, but not really for science. It is important to note that when Anning began collecting fossils the prevailing scientific theory was that they were just preserved remains of existing animals. The idea that an animal had ever gone extinct had been proposed, but was not widely accepted. 

Anning's father Richard was a cabinet-maker, but he dabbled in fossil collecting and passed that love onto his daughter. When Mary was 11 her father died, so she and her mother and her brother began selling fossils to make ends meet.

Now the best time to collect fossils at Lyme Regis was right after a land slide when new fossils might have been exposed, but that was also of course the most dangerous time to be on the cliffs; though it was not until she was in her 30's that she was caught in a land slide. 

She survived, but her dog Tray was not so lucky. 

Over time Mary taught herself the basics of anatomy using animals that no one had ever seen alive and this helped her become an expertin the science and the art of preparation; the technique of removing rock from around a fossil to expose the specimen inside it. 

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