By Erica Westly | September 21, 2009
Credit: American Institute of Physics
A few weeks ago, the Museum of the City of New York released a list of 400 influential New Yorkers to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival to the island. I was looking at the scientists included on the list (there were about six or seven, as I recall) when I came across Chien-Shiung Wu, a physicist who participated in the Manhattan Project and later became a professor at Columbia. She did what was arguably her most important work in the 1950s, when she overthrew a physics principle called the conservation of parity. Two male colleagues bolstered the work with a separate experiment, and it was they, not Wu, who received the Nobel prize in 1957. It’s a scenario that became all too familiar to me when I compiled my list of Nobel snubs for Scientific American last year. Wu should have been on that list, and I regret that I didn’t know about her until now.
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