Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A lone woman in theoretical physics

Only two days ago I reported on the CSM Annual Dinner, and how times have changed regarding women in mining. Today I found the wonderful photo below on Twitter. It is a beautifully restored and colourised photo by Marina Amaral (Twitter @marinamaral2) and she calls it "the most intelligent picture ever taken".
It shows participants at the 5th Solvay Conference on Quantum Mechanics in 1927, at which 17 of the attendees were, or became, Nobel Prize winners. What is notable is that there was only one woman at the conference, Marie S. Curie. As I said on Sunday, times have certainly changed.
Marina has also listed the people in the photo, a listing which absolutely oozes with eminence!
Back row: Auguste Piccard, Émile Henriot, Paul Ehrenfest, Édouard Herzen, Théophile de Donder, Erwin Schrödinger, Jules-Émile Verschaffelt, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Ralph Howard Fowler, Léon Brillouin
Middle Row: Peter Debye, Martin Knudsen, William Lawrence Bragg, Hendrik Anthony Kramers, Paul Dirac, Arthur Compton, Louis de Broglie, Max Born, Niels Bohr
Seated front: Irving Langmuir, Max Planck, Marie Skłodowska Curie, Hendrik Lorentz, Albert Einstein, Paul Langevin, Charles Eugène Guye, Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, Owen Willans Richardson
Amazing photo: thanks Marina.


  1. So many intellectuals--what a pleasure and privelege to be able to see in one FRAME;
    wonder how those conferences were held and discussions were directed and reported?

  2. While she was the only woman, she was also the only person to have bagged two Nobels at this gathering, one in Chemistry and another in Physics. Frank Crundwell

    1. Yes, and another interesting fact: Max Born was the grandfather of Olivia Newton-John!

  3. One interesting link between Marie Currie and Cornwall is that she was said to have first isolated Radium from
    pitchblende from Trenwith Mine in St.Ives... just another interesting little fact from our beautiful county's facinating history.

  4. The movie Genius is a great recollection of these important scientic discoveries. Marie Curie was a good friend of Einstein. Mileva Maric, Eistein wife, played an important roñe in the 5 papers that Eistein published in 1905. They worked together in some of these ideas.


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