Chien-Shiung Wu Day

Dr. Wu in her lab, circa 1963. Photo credit: Columbia University.

Today one of the most influential female physicists would have turned 100 years old. Even though she passed away in 1997, she left a legacy of knowledge for generations to come.

Chinese-American nuclear physicist Chien-Shiung Wu received her first degree while still living in China, and worked on her doctorate in 1940 after moving to the United States. Wu studied with the man who invented the Cyclotron, E.O. Lawrence, went on to work on the Manhattan Project, and built the experiment that won her colleagues a Nobel Prize in 1956.   While she didn’t share in the Nobel, her work in disproving conservation of parity was widely recognized, and she received many accolades for a lifetime of achievements, including the Wolf Prize in Physics, the National Medal of Science, and inclusion at the National Academy of Science and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Wu was the first woman appointed to the top post of the American Physical Society in 1973.  She also taught at Smith, Princeton and Columbia University, and her writing is considered required reading for fledgling physicists.

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