Ten Physicists who Never Got the Importance They Deserved

Ten Physicists who Never Got the Importance They Deserved

Life is unfair not only for us but for everyone. There are times when deserving people don’t get due credits for their hard work and discoveries. Great scientists have also been a victim of these unfortunates.

Down below we have compiled a list of ten of such unsung scientists who actually deserved their share of lime light:

  1. Amalie Emmy Noether

Amalie was a German mathematician (born on 23 march, 1882) and the discoverer of the famous and significant Noether’s theorem, which is used extensively in mathematical physics. She made great contributions to abstract algebra and was described by prominent scientists as the most important woman in the history of mathematics. In the 19th century, many had figured the law of conservation of energy but it was Noether who actually found out why is the energy conserved. She figured that it is a consequence of a symmetry in nature, especially symmetry of time.

2. Adolplhe Quetelet

Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet was known to be the most accomplished statistician of his time. A Belgian, he was born on 22 February 1796 and was an astronomer, mathematician, statistician and a sociologist. He used to write operas and poetry in his youth but switched to math later on. This brilliant man also gave the formula for body mass index that tells how overweight one is. His research also comprised of various disciplines like meteorology, demography, criminology and history science. He founded the Royal observatory of Belgium and the Brussels observatory.

3. Mary Somerville

Born on 26 December, 1780, Mary was a Scottish scientist, writer and a polymath. She had a casual schooling for a year at the age of ten and got so intrigued that she taught herself algebra and geometry. He father did not approve of it yet she never gave up. Her husband died young and hence she had to return to Scotland where she got into science again. She was asked to translate Laplace’s work into English which she did with such brilliant explanation that she made a career out of writing books that explained the difficult science to the layman in an easy language. She was globally recognized by the scientific community.

4. Ida Noddack

Source: royalsocietypublishing.org

Ida was denied credits twice for really significant discoveries. She predicted the element with atomic number 43, called masurium by her but was unable to extract. It was later made artificially by Carlo Perrier and she was denied any credits. She also suggested bombarding uranium with neutrons could produce smaller nuclei. It is the principle behind nuclear fission and goes without saying how significant it is. Her ideas of world changing discoveries were never credited.

5. Chien Shiung Wu

Source: info.umkc.edu

Chien Shiung Wu was a Chinese American physicist and worked on the Manhattan project. Just like Noddack she was denied credits to her work because her role being experimental and not theoretical. Her colleagues Lee and Yang suggested that the law of conservation of parity didn’t hold for weak interactions in particles. Lee persuaded Wu to conduct an experiment, which she did, and proved the theory. But to her disappointment, lee and yang won the Nobel prize in 1957 and she was excluded.

6. Eunice Foote

Source: Comox valley record

At the meeting of the American association for the advancement of science, Eunice presented a paper where she demonstrated the effect of sun’s rays on various gases like carbonic acid and theorized that these effects take place in the earth’s atmosphere to affect the climate. Being a woman, she was not allowed to read her paper and hence it was read by prof. joseph henry who demanded for equality for women in the field. Just after three years, in 1859, irish physicist John Tyndall got credited for discovering that green-house gases such as carbonic acid, trapped heat and and this effect took place in the earth’s atmosphere.

7. Antonie Parent

Antonie had knowledge of various scientific fields and worked on the subjects of astronomy, cartography and geometry, chemistry and biology and music too. He showed his adroitness in investigating practical matters like friction’s effect, stresses on beams etc. and also tried to compute theoretical maximum efficiency of machines. Antonie also laid the foundation for the second law of thermodynamics but unfortunately could not get the right result. His contributions in the field of science are very significant.

8. Thomas Harriot

Source: safcer group

Harriot was born on 2 July 1560 and was an English astronomer, mathematician, ethnographer and translator. He was majorly known for his contribution for navigational techniques and worked closely with John White on advanced maps. He worked rigorously on subjects of astronomy and mathematics too but could not publish much papers. He wrote a book named “The Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia. This genius also drew the first picture of the moon through a telescope about four months before Galilei. Unfortunately, due to lack of published papers his accomplishments went obscure.

9. Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Source: twitter.com

She was still a PhD student when she made the discovery of the 20th century. While working on the construction of a radio telescope and monitoring quasars, she noticed a different pattern of regular radio pulses. She then persuaded her supervisor and the team for further investigation of which they were reluctant earlier.  They discovered pulsars as a result.  The published paper had five authors including Jocelyn, but the Nobel prize for the same was awarded to Hewish and Martin Ryle. It was hugely criticized by many astronomers but Jocelyn didn’t complain.

10. Nettie Stevens

Source: the digital teacher

It was a mystery as to what decides the gender of a new born. There different theories earlier regarding it that it’s the nutrition or the different body temperatures that play the role. Nettie disapproved of it and went on to investigate. She found out that in a female mealworm beetle there were 20 chromosomes of similar size and in the male one there were 19 big and one small chromosome. She traced it back to the male sperm and found that the gender was determined by the chromosomes of the fertilizing sperm. Steven was a secondary school teacher before she got into studying genetics. In her late 30s she went to the university to complete her BA, MA and PhD in genetics.

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