This isn’t really Imperial related, but today is Ada Lovelace Day – according to http://findingada.com/ it is “an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science”. So, I thought, why not join in too?
Of course, we shouldn’t celebrate women scientists for their gender – we should celebrate their work. Though this doesn’t make choosing someone to talk about any easier. I thought about it for a while – reading about Lisa Randall’s work got me into physics; I recently re-read “The Dark Lady of DNA” having discovered a blue plaque round the corner from here proclaiming Rosalind Franklin once lived there; heck, there are plenty of inspirational women in science here at Imperial (as the recent We Are Science exhibition demonstrated) – and eventually decided to talk about Lise Meitner.
I consider Lise Meitner inspirational not just because of her work – and that alone was worthy of great acclaim. In addition to discovering several isotopes and the Auger effect (independently of Auger), she was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission. She is often singled out as being unfairly overlooked by the Nobel Committee. Of course, her work had huge implications for nuclear warfare, but she refused to work on the Manhattan Project. As an Austrian Jew she also had to flee Nazi Germany, eventually settling in Sweden. Her epitaph reads: “a physicist who never lost her humanity”.
One day I decided to write a poem for every element of the periodic table – meitnerium was the only one I actually did. No, you can’t read it.
On a completely unrelated note, I will be Chair/President of Amnesty next year! Hopefully I help can continue the great work that everyone’s done this year and do some new exciting things too. I’m planning on writing some “feature” type posts on here soon, so watch out for them!