In the history of mankind, there have been brilliant women who have played a key role in science, but, despite their excellent contributions, were never recognized. Some have been overshadowed by men in their lives, some have had to deliberately withdraw, and others have found an unhappy and premature death.
Very few of them have managed to establish themselves in the scientific world and gain recognition. We compiled a list of 6 incredible women in human history, whose research and scientific contributions have left a significant mark on the history of science.
Amazing Women in the History of Science
Born in the middle of the 4th century in the capital of Alexandria, Hypatia worked as a philosopher and mathematician. She devoted himself to teaching and studying exact sciences.
Among many of her contributions, She improved the design of astrolabes, instruments that determined the position of the stars. Although Hypatia was recognized as the first mathematical woman, the fact is that, in her day, her scientific work was not well received by some groups that considered her “pagan”.
These foundations are now uncertain, as the only evidence suggesting this is the fact that Hypatia’s teachings focus on the works of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus.
Born in Vienna in 1878, Lise Meitner was a physicist who investigated radioactivity. She was a professor at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and at the University of Berlin from 1926 to 1933.
In 1938, she had to leave Germany because she was Jewish. The Nuremberg Laws of the Nazi government forced her to leave, and then she joined the team at the Manne Siegbahn Institute Research Institute in Stockholm.
Lise Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, however, only her friend Otto Hahn received the recognition and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Although Meitner’s discovery was very important, science overlooked her credit until many years later. After that, her name was recognized and acclaimed, and even an asteroid (6999) and two craters on the moon and Venus were named in her memory.
Born in London in 1815, Ada Lovelace was a British mathematician, computer scientist, writer, and only daughter of Anna Isabella and the poet Lord Byron.
The marriage of her parents was anything but happy; therefore, when Ada was only one month old, her father left home never to return.
This would forever mark the life of Ada and her mother, who categorically prohibited her from dedicating herself to literature like her father.
However, Ada had more scientific aspirations and was always more influenced by her own mother, who was a great mathematician.
At age 18, Ada met mathematician Charles Babbage, who motivated her to join his team with the famous “analytical machine.” Ada not only accomplished this but also did what is now recognized as the first machine algorithm.
This officially makes her the first computer programmer. In fact, the current Ada programming language, created by the United States Department of Defense, was named after her.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Born in Belfast in 1943, Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist who discovered the first radio signal from a pulsar, a star that emits very intense radiation at short, regular intervals.
Jocelyn’s story is also marked by success without recognition, as it was her tutor Antony Hewish who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974, although she was the person who made the discovery.
The fact did not go unnoticed by the scientific world since many of his colleagues condemned this action against the award.
However, for her, this did not mean bad news, on the contrary, she said in an interview that it was the best thing that could have happened to her since she had other recognitions much more significant than the Nobel Prize.
Burnell is one of the UK’s most influential scientists and, of course, astrophysicists.
Born in Warsaw in 1867, she was a recognized scientist who received 2 Nobel Prizes for physics and chemistry. Madame Curie was a pioneer in radioactivity, discovering techniques for the isolation of radioactive isotopes and 2 chemical elements: polonium and radium.
From these discoveries, Madame Curie’s life was literally surrounded by radioactivity. She carried the chemical element with her everywhere, ignoring the degree of damage caused by exposure to it.
She shared her scientific work closely with her husband, Pierre Curie, and later with one of her two daughters: Irene-Joliot Curie.
Many years after the death of her husband Pierre, Marie began an affair with the scientist Paul Langevin, which brought her far more problems than she could imagine.
Paul was married, although he no longer lived with his wife, which caused a real scandal. The press called Marie Curie “the foreign Jewish homewrecker”. Although their relationship was no longer extramarital, the renowned scientist had to clear her name at a time when her love life seemed more important than her surprising second Nobel Prize.
Born in Vienna in 1914, she was an American Austrian actress and inventor. Hedy’s story is particularly interesting because, although most of her life was spent acting in the movies, she invented the first version of an expanded spectrum that allowed long-distance wireless communications that we now know as “Wifi”.
Together with musician George Antheil, they developed the cryptographic technique known as “frequency hopping”. But before that discovery happened, Hedy experienced a terrible situation.
Her husband, Friedrich Mandl, kept her captive in her own home under strict control and forced her to leave the film industry.
In 1937, she managed to escape and go to Paris to continue his artistic career. There she met Louis B. Mayer, president of Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, with whom she signed a contract for Hollywood.
In 1942, Hedy registered the patent for her secret communication method that sought to avoid the detection of torpedoes by Allied troops.
Hedy argued that if the transmitter and receiver could jump from frequency to frequency simultaneously, anyone trying to interrupt that signal wouldn’t know where it was. Unfortunately, Hedy received no credit for her invention.
Preview photo credit Unknown / Wikipedia
Did you know the story of any of the amazing women on this list?