How This Woman Changed Physics

Emmy Noether may be obscure, but her work was revolutionary
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2012 2:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – Her work may be the "backbone" of all modern physics; her key theorem could be as important as the theory of relativity; yet hardly anyone knows who Emmy Noether is. Celebrating her 130th birthday this month, Noether has suffered what the New York Times calls "chronic neglect"—including in the physics community—even though she was celebrated by leading mathematicians of her day: Albert Einstein said she was the most "significant" female mathematician ever.

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Born in Germany, Noether worked in an era when hardly any German universities accepted women; the rise of the Nazis later forced the Jewish mathematician to leave the country. But despite the odds, she scored a job as a guest lecturer and developed "Noether's theorem," which addresses connections among geometry, mass, and energy and explains why "riding a bicycle is safe." She ended up at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania before dying at the age of 53. Click through for the full profile. (Read more Emmy Noether stories.)

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