Emmy Noether

Today’s Women’s History Month Moment is brought to you by A Mighty Girl. Emmy Noether is one of the greatest mathematicians in history. Despite her groundbreaking work, including working with Albert Einstein on the Theory of Relativity, she was barred from teaching at the University of Göttingen in Germany by the Nazis in the early 1930s. She moved to the United States, but didn’t live much longer due to complications of surgery. Einstein described her as “the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.” Read on for more about this brilliant woman.

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Today in Mighty Girl history, groundbreaking German mathematician Emmy Noether — one of the most influential mathematicians of modern times — was born in 1882. Noether revolutionized the understanding of abstract algebra and made groundbreaking contributions to theoretical physics. Albert Einstein once commended her as the “the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.” In physics, she explained the connection between symmetry and conservation laws in her Noether’s theorem and, in algebra, her influence is so far-reaching that numerous mathematical objects have been named in her honor.

The mathematician Norbert Wiener also lauded Noether as “the greatest woman mathematician who has ever lived; and the greatest woman scientist of any sort now living, and a scholar at least on the plane of Madame Curie.” Unfortunately, even given the scale of her contributions to the field, Emmy Noether is largely unknown today; a fate all too common to many female scientists and mathematicians of the past. As the New York Times observed in a tribute, “Scientists are a famously anonymous lot, but few can match in the depths of her perverse and unmerited obscurity the 20th-century mathematical genius Amalie Noether.”

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