Take a look at today’s Google illustration, a young woman clad in a white button down shirt and bright blue bowtie surrounded by little circles of all things mathematics, as if she were simply daydreaming about theoretical physics and algebra.
Odds are, she was.
Meet Amalie Emmy Noether, better known as Emmy, born 133 years ago today. You may not know her—and today not many do, but it’s time we learn about the woman Einstein called “a genius” and why she was so influential to the mathematics world.
Here are 5 things you didn’t know about Emmy Noether:
Girl knew how to follow her heart:
Noether was originally set to study and teach French and English after passing all the required examinations, which would have been a proper female career path—but she sought out mathematics instead at the University of Erlangen where her father, a mathematician himself, lectured.
She faced sexism and no pay for a large part of her career, despite her talent:
Because women were largely excluded from academic positions, Noether faced incessant sexism and consequently had to work without pay for 7 years at the Mathematical Institute of Erlangen. Luckily, one renowned mathematician, David Hilbert, took notice of Noether’s work. He lobbied to get her hired at the University of Göttingen but was faced with opposition by idiots who argued this: “What will our soldiers think when they return to the university and find that they are required to learn at the feet of a woman?”
Upon finally getting hired, Noether gained a strong following who recognized her genius:
Noether did not get a full-time paid position until 1919 but soon became a leading member of the Göttingen mathematics department—her students were even referred to as the “Noether Boys”
Her work was on par with Einstein:
Among other contributions, Noether is known for her theorem that united two pillars of physics: symmetry and nature and the universal laws of conservation. This work, which has become known as the Noether Theorem, has been called as important as Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Though a poll done by David Goldberg, a Drexel University physicist, proved few knew why Noether was important and some did not even know who she was.
She persevered in the face of adversity:
Dismissed from her job by the Nazi Government in 1933, Noether fled to the U.S. and took a position at Bryn Mawr College, which Einstein said were “the happiest and perhaps the most fruitful of her entire career.”
images via google.com and WomeninScienceArt on etsy.com