20 May Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) (top picture). Conside red the eldest human rights activist of our time, Boggs was a philosopher who fought for women’s rights, environmental justice, Black power (alongside Angela Davis and Malcolm X), and labor rights. Married to African American activist James Boggs, she wrote a series of books and was involved in many community efforts that ranged from advocating against poor living conditions in Chicago to creating charter schools and youth programs in Detroit. (source)
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997)
Often called the “First Lady of Physics” and the “Chinese Marie Curie,” Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu made a name for herself as one of history’s most renowned physicists. Born in China in 1912, Wu received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkley in 1940. After teaching physics for a couple of years at Princeton University and Smith College, Wu joined the Manhattan Project at Columbia University in New York, a nuclear research program that helped the United States develop the atomic bomb during World War II.
After the war, Wu stayed on at Columbia and became the foremost authority on beta decay (aka radioactive disintegration). Then, in 1956, two of Wu’s male colleagues asked her help in testing a theory they came up with that challenged the Law of Conservation of Parity during beta decay.
Wu’s innovative experiments proved the men’s theory, and they won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1957. Well, the men did, anyway. Sadly, similar to the experiences of many extraordinary women in science before her (and still today), Wu’s role in this scientific breakthrough went unacknowledged and uncredited.
But despite the science community’s failure to recognize her considerable talents as Nobel Prize-winning, Wu continued to make cutting-edge contributions to the field of physics throughout her career. She even won some prizes of her own, including the National Medal of Science, the Comstock Prize, and and 1978’s Wolf Prize in Physics. And today, her book Beta Decay, written in 1956, remains nuclear physicists’ go-to reference guide on the subject. (source)