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That’s my favorite scientist. Never heard of her? This guy did:

Within the past few days a distinguished mathematician, Professor Emmy Noether, formerly connected with the University of Göttingen and for the past two years at Bryn Mawr College, died in her fifty-third year. In the judgment of the most competent living mathematicians, Fräulein Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began. In the realm of algebra, in which the most gifted mathematicians have been busy for centuries, she discovered methods which have proved of enormous importance in the development of the present-day younger generation of mathematicians.

Albert Einstein, May 1st, 1935

Same with these people.

Noether was a highly prolific mathematician, publishing groundbreaking papers, sometimes under a man’s name, in rarefied fields of abstract algebra and ring theory. And when she applied her equations to the universe around her, she discovered some of its basic rules, like how time and energy are related, and why it is, as the physicist Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute put it, “that riding a bicycle is safe.”

Ransom Stephens, a physicist and novelist who has lectured widely on Noether, said, “You can make a strong case that her theorem is the backbone on which all of modern physics is built.”


Noether’s brilliance was obvious to all who worked with her, and her male mentors repeatedly took up her cause, seeking to find her a teaching position — better still, one that paid.

“I do not see that the sex of the candidate is an argument against her,” [David] Hilbert said indignantly to the administration at Göttingen, where he sought to have Noether appointed as the equivalent of an associate professor. “After all, we are a university, not a bathhouse.” Hilbert failed to make his case, so instead brought her on staff as a more or less permanent “guest lecturer”; and Noether, fittingly enough, later took up swimming at a men-only pool.

So I recommend taking some time to get to know her. Wikipedia has a great write-up, but what prompted this article was a set of lectures given at the Perimeter Institute.

Tonight, mathematician Peter Olver will explore Noether’s life and career, and delve into the curious history of her famous theorem, and her other work. Physicist Ruth Gregory will look at the lasting impact of Noether’s theorem, and how it connects with the Standard Model and Einstein’s general relativity.

Thankfully, they were archived on video at the previous link. Give it a view.