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Emmy Noether

Page history last edited by Brandon 10 years, 1 month ago

Emmy Noether

          By: Brandon Pettyjohn


Noether.jpg     Emmy Noether (b. 23 March, 1882 - d. 14 April, 1935) was a famous mathematician and physicist. She was born and raised in Erlangen, Germany. In 1907, she received her PhD; she then acquired a teaching position at the University of Göttingen. She was later forced to move to America due to the Nazi’s rise to power in Germany. A few months after she arrived in America, Noether passed away. Noether was widely considered the greatest mathematician and physicist of her time.



     Noether was the oldest of four children, and was named after her mother, Amelia [1]. Noether was the only girl among the four children [2]. During her childhood, she attended the City High School for Daughters, a fancy school that was meant to be the successor to private schools [3]. Noether had a very stereotypical childhood, meaning that she spent significant time doing staple feminine chores, such as cooking and cleaning. Sometimes her mother would teach her French and English. Eventually Noether became fluent in both French and English [1].

     Noether's father was a famous mathematician who taught at the University of Erlangen, located in the town where Noether was born and raised. When she was old enough, Noether helped her father at the University. She would sometimes fill in for her father when he became ill. During her time there, Noether did some research of her own which played a huge part in her life later on [2].

     At the age of 18, Noether attended the University of Erlangen, however, she was only allowed to audit the class, attend without receiving credit, because she was a woman [1]. In the year 1900, Noether passed the Bavarian examinations for female teachers for French and English; she then taught students in the two foreign languages. In 1907, Noether became the second woman to receive a doctorate from the University of Erlangen [3].


Contributions to STEM

     After receiving her PhD, Noether assisted two of Albert Einstein's assistants, Hilbert and Klein, at the University of Göttingen. Noether worked under Hilbert's name and received no salary. After proving herself at Göttingen, Noether received an extension on her PhD which allowed her to become an academic lecturer and receive a small salary. “At Göttingen, Noether was known for her small, loyal following of students, who were called 'Emmy’s boys.' Noether's teaching style was extremely fast-paced, and many of her students had difficulty keeping up with her curriculum. She pushed her students to learn on their own and develop their own theories and ideas. Many of 'Emmy’s boys' went on to become famous mathematicians.” [2]

     In 1915, Albert Einstein published his revolutionary theory of relativity. Noether took the formula and studied it using her own formulas she had been working on. This eventually led Noether to create her own theorem called Noether's Theorem. This theorem states that wherever there is symmetry, there is some sort of conservation. “The connections that Noether forged are “critical” to modern physics, said Lisa Randall, a professor of theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard.”[4] Einstein declared Noether one of the most important female mathematicians of all time. Einstein and Noether soon became good friends [4].

     In 1933, Hitler and the Nazis rose to power in Germany and demanded the departure of all Jews. Seeing as she was a Jew, Noether was forced to leave Germany. Einstein quickly helped Noether acquire a job in America at Bryn Mawr College [5]. Noether was thrilled to go to a college where other women worked. Noether made many friends, and she really enjoyed her time there [6]. It was said that her time at the college was the best time in her life [4]. After about 18 months in America, Noether passed away at the age of 53 [4]. Noether was buried at Bryn Mawr College [5]. 

     Many people considered her the greatest mathematician of all time, and others considered her the greatest physicist of all time. She created several formulas that change the way people think about Math and Physics. Her work consists mainly of abstract algebra and conservation in physics. In algebra, she discovered the criteria for polynomial rings. In physics, she created the Noether theorem [2]. Noether was also a great teacher and colleague. Noether inspired her colleagues to think in general terms to help them further understand concepts [7]. She published over 40 papers throughout the course of her career [1]. Many of the papers she published were written under a man's name in order to get them published [4]. On July 29, 1997, a plaque was built where Noether was raised to commemorate her and her work [3].


Impact on 21st Century Society and Culture 

     Throughout her life, Noether was faced with many difficulties. The fact that she was a woman was the biggest factor in her difficult life. She was also a Jew in Germany during Hitler's rise to power. For a large part of her career, she was forced to work with no salary. Despite all of these hardships, Noether led a very successful life [4]. Noether had the strength to overcome the issues she faced, which led her to become a very powerful role model to women everywhere. Her work has left a huge impact on the 21st century. Noether's work will not be forgotten.


Interesting Facts 

·         Emmy Noether never got married.

·         Emmy Noether was good friends with Albert Einstein.

·         Emmy Noether was one of the very few women to receive a PhD from the University of Göttingen.


Works Cited 

[1]     Taylor, Mandie. “Emmy Noether.” Agnes Scott College. n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


[2]     Hannon, Jessica. “Emmy Noether.” Emmy Noether (2006): 1-2. Book Collection: Nonfiction. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


[3]     Silverberg, Alice. “Emmy Noether in Erlangen.” Mathematical Intelligencer 23.3 (2001): 44. Advanced Placement Source. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


[4]     Angier, Natalie. “The Mighty Mathematician You've Never Heard Of.” Nytimes. 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


[5]     Hargittai, Istvan, and Magdolna Hargittai. “Homage to Emmy Noether.” Mathematical Intelligencer 24.1 (2002): 48. Advanced Placement Source. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


[6]     Tobies, Renate. “Emmy Noether: The Mother of Modern Algebra by M. B. W. Tent.” Mathematical Intelligencer 32.1 (2010): 65-67. MasterFILE Elite. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.


[7]     “April 14: Emmy Noether, Mathematical Genius.” Jewish Currents. n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.




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