These 5 Women Deserved, And Were Unjustly Denied, A Nobel Prize In Physics
“The fact of the matter is that there is no concrete evidence that women are in any way inherently inferior to men when it comes to work in any of the sciences or any of their sub-fields. But there is overwhelming evidence for misogyny, sexism, and institutional bias that hinders their careers and fails to recognize them for their outstanding achievements. When you think of the Nobel Laureates in Physics and wonder why there are so few women, make sure you remember Cecilia Payne, Chien-Shiung Wu, Vera Rubin, Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, and Lise Meitner. The Nobel committee may have forgotten or overlooked their contributions until it was too late, but that doesn’t mean we have to. In all the sciences, we want the best, brightest, most capable, and hardest workers this world has to offer. Looking back on history with accurate eyes only serves to demonstrate how valuable, and yet undervalued, women in science have been.”
In most intellectual lines of work, if you claimed that a certain type of person wasn’t mentally capable of doing as good a job as another, you’d be rightfully called a bigot. Yet somehow, in a myriad of the sciences (such as physics), there are those who simultaneously claim that “women are inferior to men” alongside the claim that it isn’t sexist or bigoted to say so.
But what there is a long history of, in physics, is women being denied their due credit for discoveries and advances that they were an integral part of. Even in the aftermath of last week’s events, when physicist Donna Strickland became just the third woman ever to be awarded a Nobel Prize, many have claimed that she isn’t worthy, for reasons that have never been applied to men.
Well, meet five women you might not be aware of who certainly earned a Nobel Prize, even if they were never awarded one. We cannot rewrite history, but we can right the legacy of its wrongs in our public consciousness.
Baseball And The Atom Bomb
“Moe Berg, who left baseball in 1939, and was eager to get involved in the war effort, was appointed to Project Larson, part of Alsos and hence connected with the OSS. Berg was sent to Italy to speak with Italian scientists and find out what he could. Then, when the Alsos mission learned that Heisenberg would be speaking in Zurich in December 1944, Berg was issued a pistol and a cyanide capsule.
Berg blended right in with the audience listening to Heisenberg’s lecture. What a relief that the talk had nothing to do with nuclear weapons or even nuclear energy, but was rather about quantum matrices and other physics topics without a clear nuclear connection. Attracting no suspicion, Berg left the talk and returned to the United States, reporting that he found no evidence of German progress.
Later in life, Berg was offered the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his heroic efforts, the highest honor the United States can award a civilian. But for unstated reasons, Berg declined the honor. He remains the only major league baseball player whose card is on display at the CIA’s headquarters.”
When it comes to the history of the world, there are few developments that were more critical than the allied development of the atomic bomb during World War II… and the failure of the Nazi regime to do so. In hindsight, it became clear that the Nazis were quite far from weaponizing nuclear fission, but with scientists like Werner Heisenberg and Otto Hahn on board, the danger was clear and apparent to all. Yet World War II also saw the beginnings of what would become the US Central Intelligence Agency, and one of their first field agents was Moe Berg, a former major league baseball catcher. This average-at-best baseball player spoke many languages fluently, joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and almost assassinated Heisenberg in 1944!
Come take a dive into this fascinating and mostly-forgotten bit of history, thanks to the incredible writing and researching of Paul Halpern!
@inspirationxcom replied to post:
She is one of my absolute heroes. That she stayed true to her values, and refused to work at the manhattan project is one of the things I admired most about her. I put together a small biography of her