And we’re back at it again this week! This time, we’ve decided to show case some women of colour, and the significant change that they can have on the world.
This week’s wonderful women in Chien-Shiung Wu, for her contributions to the world of nuclear physics.
Known for conducting the Wu Experiment that contradicted the law of conservation of parity, Chein-Shiung won the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics, and also won the Wold Prize in Physics in 1978.
Nicknamed “The First Lady of Physics”, “the Chinese Madame Curie” and “The Queen of Nuclear research” Chien-Shiu revolutionized the way that the we look at physics.
Born in the town of Liuhe in Taicang, Jiangsu province, China, on May 31, 1912. Chien-Shiu graduated the top of her class in 1929 and was admitted to the National Central University in Nanjing, where she studied from 1930-34, starting in mathematics, but later transferring to physics.
The first two years out of university she worked as an assistant at the Zheiang University, while also taking on graduate-level studied.
She later become a researcher at the Institute of Physics at the Academia Sinica.
Taking a look at her thesis, it was separated into two main parts :
The first part focused on on bremsstrahlung, the electromagnetic radiation produced by the deceleration of a charged particle when deflected by another charged particle, typically an electron by an atomic nucleus.
Chien-Shiu investigated this using beta-emitting phosphorus-32, a radioactive isotope easily produced in the cyclotron that Lawrence and his brother John H. Lawrence were evaluating for use in cancer treatment and as a radioactive tracer.
This marked Wu’s first work with beta decay, a subject that she would later become a leader of.
The second part of the thesis was about the production of radioactive isotopes of xenon produced by the nuclear fission of uranium with the 37-inch and 60-inch cyclotrons.
She completed her Ph.D. in June 1940, however despite recommendations she could not secure a position at a university, so she remained at the Radiation Laboratory as a post-doctoral fellow.
Alongside all this, Chien-Shiung was a highly praised women, take a look:
She was the…
First woman with an honorary doctorate from Princeton University
First female President of the American Physical Society (1975)
First person selected to receive the Wolf Prize in Physics (1978)
First living scientist to have an asteroid (2752 Wu Chien-Shiung) named after her (1990)