During World War II, thousands of scientists and engineers worked on the Manhattan project, the top secret push to develop an atomic bomb that would end the war. Two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did just that, while also killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. The devastating potential of nuclear weapons sparked a moral controversy that continues to this day. Hundreds of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project were women. Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you a few of their stories.
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In the aftermath of the discovery of nuclear fission, letters exchanged between Lise Meitner and the chemist Otto Hahn reveal how she struggled with the betrayal of Hahn, her long-time scientific collaborator, who failed not only to credit her for her work but also to condemn the Nazi atrocities.
New translations of Meitner’s letters show that antisemitism before and after World War II robbed Meitner of the 1944 Nobel Prize that went to her long-time collaborator chemist Otto Hahn.
As part of our Lost Women of the Manhattan Project special series, we pay tribute to physicists Ruth Howes and Caroline Herzenberg, whose ten-year research project ensured a place in history for the female scientists, engineers and technicians who worked on the atomic bomb.
Kay Way was a nuclear physicist who was an expert in radioactive decay. After working on the atomic bomb she became an outspoken opponent of nuclear weapons.
Lilli Hornig is the only female scientist mentioned by name in the film Oppenheimer. Here's the story of the real Lilli Hornig.
Naomi Livesay supervised the mechanical computing operation at Los Alamos and worked on computations that formed the mathematical basis for implosion simulations. Despite her crucial role on the project, she has rarely been mentioned as more than a footnote. Until now.
Aggie Lee, a young indigenous woman from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, began working on the Manhattan Project in 1945. Her job: to monitor scientists' blood for excessive radiation exposure. Yet she didn't know that she was contributing to the building of the atomic bomb. Years later, she blamed the radiation for a series of cancer deaths in her family.
Just 23 years old and armed with a Ph.D., Leona Woods joined Enrico Fermi as he led a team working to produce the world's first successful nuclear chain reaction.
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Barnard is one of the most selective academic institutions in the nation, Barnard College is devoted to empowering young women to pursue their passions. Throughout the 2021-22 academic year, Barnard is celebrating all things related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at the College. Barnard’s expert faculty, its symbiotic relationship with Columbia University, and its location in New York City makes it singularly positioned to offer unparalleled opportunities to women who will become tomorrow’s STEM leaders. The College has also increasingly incorporated STEM curricula and programming into its liberal arts education, providing students with interdisciplinary knowledge and skill sets that they can carry beyond Barnard.