Born in 1912, Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu was a physicist well known for helping to develop the process for separating uranium metal into U-235 and U-238 isotopes through a process called gaseous diffusion. Her father was a strong advocate for education for girls. After graduating from a university in Shanghai, she received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkley. She worked as a physics instructor at Princeton University and joined the Manhattan Project for a time. While at Columbia, she began researching beta decay and was the first to confirm Enrico Fermi’s theory. In 1956, she devised an experiment that proved a theory by Lee and Yang – earning the men a Nobel Prize in Physics the following year. She was the first woman to serve as president of the American Physical Society and won various awards for her work including the Wolf Prize in Physics and the National Medal of Science. She published a book called “Beta Decay” that is still widely used today.
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