Jun 15, 2019 | Updated: 11:54 AM EDT

Woman of the Hour: Emmy Noether, One of the Greatest Minds

May 24, 2019 09:41 AM EDT

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Emmy Noether, photographed in about 1930.
(Photo : PICTORIAL PARADE /GETTY IMAGES)

In the time where sexism exists and women seem powerless, a great mind named Emmy Noether stood out. Amalie Emmy Noether was born on March 23, 1882, in the city of Bavarian of Erlangen. He is the daughter of one of the superb mathematicians of the nineteenth century, Max Noether.

Like other women who wanted to pursue a career in science, it was also a rough road for her. Noether went to a general finishing school. In 1900, she earned a certification to teach English and French since she was not able to study mathematics at university for being a woman. However, she earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg where her father taught. After three years, she received her Ph.D. when she was allowed to take a doctoral degree in 1904. Unfortunately, she spent eight years without receiving any salary or acquiring any position.

Furthermore, having the burning passion for mathematics, she moved to the University of Gottingen in 1915 and was allowed to teach but only as an assistant under a male faculty member's name. In the same University, she also didn't receive any salary until 1923. Luckily, in 1915 her hard works finally paid off when her colleagues Hilbert and Felix Klein noticed her and asked for her help, according to Cosmo Magazine.

Einstein problem regarding his theory of relativity opens a door of opportunity for Noether. Her new idea seems not to correlate with the first law of thermodynamics "conservation of energy", which states that energy can change forms but can never be destroyed. Total energy remains constant. She resolved the problem using the two theorem she proved that year. She published her work in 1918 and was praised by American theoretical physicist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Frank Wilczek. Wilczek regarded the work as guiding star to the twentieth and twenty-first-century physics.

"By showing that energy may not be conserved locally, that is, in an arbitrarily small patch of space but everything works out when the space is sufficiently large," said American science writer Steve Navis.

"The other theorem, which would ultimately have a far greater impact, uncovered an intimate link between conservation laws (such as the conservation of energy) and the symmetries of nature, a connection that physicists have exploited ever since," Nadis added.

"Today, our current grasp of the physical world, from subatomic particles to black holes, was heavily upon this theorem, now known simply as Noether's theorem," shared Nadis.

Her career was at its highest peak when world war two broke up. By the year 1933, she was dismissed from her position at Gottingen. However, with Einstein's help, in September she was able to be a guest professor in the US at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and do lectures at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Princeton University.

Her journey ended in April 1935 when she died due to a postoperative infection after having a surgery removing her uterine tumor.

"In the judgment of the most competent living mathematicians, Fraulein Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius, thus, far produced since the higher education of women began," Einstein noted in his letter sent to New York Times after Noether's death, cited in an article in the Washington Post.

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