The Number is 3

by Bala on October 3, 2018

Number 3 : That is the number of female physicists who have won the Nobel prize in physics in its 117 year history. On Tuesday Oct 2nd,  Donna Strickland, currently an Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo, Canada,  became the third female physicist to win the Nobel Prize for 2018. She was awarded for her pioneering work on “compression of amplified chirped optical pulses” she performed as a part of her doctoral work in 1985.

Image Courtesy npr.org. Nobel Prize in Physics (L to R) Marie Curie (1903); Donna Strickland (2018), Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1963)

The first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in physics was Marie Curie, a pioneer in nuclear radioactivity, in 1903, for her work on nuclear radiation. It took exactly another 60 years before another woman won a Nobel Prize in physics. The second recipient of the medal was Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963, for her work on structure of atomic nuclei. In 2018, Strickland won this Prize along with two other physicists Gerard Mourou and Arthur Ashkin.  Strickland’s work has resulted in important applications in the field of optical tweezers ranging from industrial to bio-medical applications using laser technologies.

An interesting article I found in Atlantic.com was that before the Nobel Prize announcement, Strickland did not have a Wikipedia page on her, and when one wiki user tried to create a page in May it was denied with the message “ This submission’s references do not show that the subject qualifies for a Wikipedia article.” Strickland, it was determined, had not received enough dedicated coverage elsewhere on the internet to warrant a page”.

Did you know that there is a dedicated wiki page for ‘Bad Jokes on Other Deleted Nonsense’ (BJODN)? But a page for an accomplished scientist who also happens to be the President of the Optical Society before winning a Nobel Prize?? NAH..

-Rama Bala

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