Hidden brilliance

Who was Emmy Noether, the math genius honored in Monday’s Google doodle?

Plus, five other female mathematicians you should know about.

Doodle by Sophie Diao/Google

Today’s Google doodle honors Emmy Noether, an early 20th century German mathematician who made tremendous contributions to the fields of mathematics and physics. Noether revolutionized scientific understanding of energy conservation with her discovery of the connection between symmetry and conservation laws—now known as Noether’s theorem. Einstein called her “the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.”

Noether

Noether

But in spite of her accomplishments, Noether spent her life fighting for acceptance and recognition. She lived during a time when few female students were accepted to German universities, and according to The Washington Post, she was initially blocked from enrolling in courses at the University of Erlangen. Vox writes that in 1915, mathematician David Hilbert tried to persuade the University of Göttingen to hire Noether, but the faculty refused. So Noether taught under Hilbert for four years, with many of her lectures appearing under his name. She was not paid for her work.

When it comes to the maths and sciences, women thinkers are often overshadowed by prominent men. But female mathematicians have long been changing our understanding of the world with their audacity and brilliance. Here are five you should know about.

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