International Day of Women and Girls in Science

In 2015 the UN proclaimed an International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11th February. Some members of staff  took part in an event where they chose their favourite scientist and wrote a short piece about why.

Prof ReidProfessor Derryck Reid - Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer program, on Babbage’s mechanical analytical engine.  Without her we wouldn’t have Google, iPhones or Windows...

Prof PidgeonProfessor Carl Pidgeon - Erika Andersson In all my career - starting with the National Magnet Laboratory at MIT (1964 -1071), and thence to the Heriot Watt Physics Department up until my (first!) retirement in 2003 - I have never had an academic female colleague;  this is of course something of a disaster and has been remedied in more recent times with the creation of research institutes at HW, where Erika is (at present) the only female academic scientist in IPAQS, one of its outstanding researchers and teachers. AND  -  Lene Hau - Lene was one of the world's leading scientists in the creation of 'slow light' (i.e. the light from a pulsed laser interacting with an atomic beam was slowed to 'the speed of a bicycle', and more recently slowed to zero), and she lives in the same house that I inhabited when at MIT;  she is always included in the many dinner parties that occur when I visit old friends in the area and she has showed me her very impressive laboratories at Harvard.

Geneviève  Gariépy - Caroline Boudoux - Prof. Boudoux leads a successful research group in Montreal and founded a company. She is clever, focused and very dynamic. An amazing role model for all scientists!

Richard McCracken – Margaret Hamilton - An inspiring female coder, Margaret programmed the command module for the first Apollo mission while being a working mother and fighting the gender inequality of the Mad Men era.

Adam LancasterAdam Lancaster -Irina Sorokina - because of her pioneering work in the development of Solid-State Mid-Infrared Laser Sources in particular Cr:ZnSe femtosecond lasers, which is my current area of research.

Shraddha Rao - Rosalind Franklin -  is an inspiring life because she was passionate and brave, and made significant and influential contributions to the physical sciences even in the face of severe discrimination.

Professor Erika Andersson - Emmy Noether (1882-1935) made landmark contributions to mathematics and theoretical physics, despite facing serious discrimination because she was a woman. In physics, Noether's theorem explains the connection between symmetry and conservation laws. This is important both because of the insight it gives into conservation laws, and from a practical point of view. To take an example, if an object behaves the same irrespective of how it is oriented in space, then its angular momentum is conserved, irrespective of whether the physical system looks symmetric or not. For example, the angular momentum of jagged asteroid tumbling in space will still be conserved.

Professor Erika Andersson - Margaret Reid because she  has done pioneering work on fundamental tests of quantum mechanics. She worked out how to test the EPR paradox and Bell's theorem using squeezed states of light. Entangled quantum systems are more correlated than classical systems can ever be, and while quantum correlations cannot be used to send information faster than the speed of light, they do enable feats such as quantum teleportation, dense coding of information, quantum cryptography, and quantum computing.   - Another female scientist who rarely get a mention is Chien-Shiung Wu, who was the first ever scientist to give evidence of quantum entanglement in the laboratory. Usually people just mention John Bell, John Clauser, Alain Aspect, Anton Zeilinger.

Kali Wilson - Lise Meitner

Marius Rutkauskas -   Maria Goeppert-Mayer

Professor Ajoy Kar - Ursula Keller 

Oliver BrownOliver Brown – Grace Hopper - By inventing the compiler, RDML Hopper embodied the spirit of 'work smarter, not harder' that I as a computational physicist hold dear.

Key information

Rory Duncan