The stories of 3 women who should have won a Nobel Prize in Science

The Nobel Prize is a very prestigious tradition, but that does not mean that it is perfect.

It can be criticized that the areas to which it is awarded are limited, but it is so, because it respects the will of its founder, Alfred Nobel, who established the five main awards: Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Peace.

But something that does not have to do directly with the will of Nobel, is the very low proportion of women winners. This year, there was not a single woman among the scientific winners.

It is understood that the awards are given on the merit of research and contributions, but it is also true that we have examples of women with sufficient merit who were nominated, but did not receive it in the end.

Lise meitner

Lise was born into a Jewish family in Vienna, in 1878, as an adult she converted to Christianity, but that did not save her from the Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany, where she developed most of her academic work, until 1938, when she had to flee to Sweden.

While in Berlin, working at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, he collaborated with the nuclear chemist Otto Hahn. Together with him he discovered the element protactinium in 1918.

The collaboration between Meitner and Hahn was long and bore many fruits: in 1938 they discovered the process of nuclear fission: the division of nuclei of heavier atoms into lighter ones, which releases energy.

Hahn was individually awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944. And although Lise was not specifically nominated that year, she received a total of 48 different nominations for Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry, which she never won.

Although he received other honors in life, perhaps the most notable came when he had already died: element 109, which was discovered in 1982 was named meitnerium in his honor.

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Marguerite perey

This French physicist born in 1909, was a disciple of Marie Curie. At the Radio Institute (which would later change its name to the Curie Institute) she worked closely with this remarkable scientist, who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

With Marie he learned the techniques to isolate and purify radioactive elements. After her mentor died, Marguerite continued working, and thus in 1935 she discovered a new radioactive element, which she called francius.

Despite having 5 nominations for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Perey never won it. But he had other honors: in 1962 she became the first woman to formally join the French Academy of Sciences.

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Chien-Shiung Wu

Wu was born in China very close to Shanghai in 1912, when he was a teenager he became interested in the sciences: physics, mathematics and chemistry. He studied his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of California at Berkeley.

In U.S.A stood out as an experimental physicist: in 1956 he developed the Wu experiment, to determine if parity, one of the particles was conserved or not in certain interactions.

In 1957, two of his compatriots, the physicists Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee, received the Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the “laws of parity.”, which were based on the Wu experiment.

However, Wu was not even nominated. Although he was on 7 other occasions from 1958, on none of them did he win.

While Nobel laureates are certainly not the only ones of their kind, and there are many ways to recognize outstanding women scientists, it would be good if the stories of Meitner, Perey, and Wu ceased to be commonplace for years to come.

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The stories of 3 women who should have won a Nobel Prize in Science