The Second Woman to Win the Nobel Prize in Physics

Fifty-two years after Marie Curie, society believed women were unsuited for academic or scientific work. Maria Goeppert Mayer pursued her interests, anyway. And she became the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in physics. Early Life Friedrich Goppert, and his wife Maria, lived in Kattowitz (now Katowice, Poland). Their only child, Maria Goeppert Mayer, was born on June 28, 1906. They moved from Kattowitz when her father, a sixth-generation university professor, accepted an appointment as the professor of pediatrics at the University of Göttingen in 1910. She claimed she was closer to her father because being a scientist; he was a more interesting. Education Only one school in 1921 Göttingen would prepare girls to take the university entrance exam, the abitur. It closed its doors a year before she would have graduated. She took the university entrance exam, anyway. And passed the exam at 17 years old, a year earlier than most. Fewer than one in ten German university students were female. Maria entered the mathematics program at the University of Göttingen. But changed to physics. It interested her more. Her doctoral thesis explained her theory of two-photon absorption (aka excitation). Though there was no way to prove her […]

Sixty-Three Years Leading Us to a Star Trek Life

On 1 October 2021, NASA celebrated the agency’s 63rd anniversary of operation. On October 5th two Russians, a film director and an actress, docked with the International Space Station to do a twelve day movie shoot. Are the past sixty-three years leading us to a Star Trek Life? The Beginning In the summer of 1950, a two-stage rocket called Bumper 2 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It reached an altitude 250 miles higher than the International Space Station’s altitude. Under the direction of General Electric, Bumper 2 rockets were used to test rocket systems and for upper atmosphere research. It was far from even the dream of a Star Trek Life. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik I. A basketball-sized satellite, Sputnik I, orbited the earth in 98 minutes. Caught off-guard by the launch, the United States scrambled to develop similar or superior capabilities. In December, they launched their first satellite, the Vanguard. It exploded shortly after takeoff. The first successful satellite launch in the U.S. came at the end of January 1958. In July of that year, Congress passed legislation that created NASA. NASA’s Years On October 1, 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration […]

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Genetic Chimera

In Greek mythology there was a fire-breathing, three-headed she-monster with the body and head of a lion, a goat’s head coming from the lion’s back, and a serpent for a tail. Called KHIMAIRA (Chimera), the Greek hero, Bellerophon killed her. Today the chimera is no longer a myth but a reality. Here is the good, bad, and ugly of genetic chimera created in a laboratory.  Genetic Chimera The term genetic chimera refers to a single organism composed of two or more genetically different cells. There are innate (natural) plant and animal genetic chimeras. Human chimeras were rare, or so we thought. That condition may be much more common than we assume. Most human chimeras never know they have the condition. They may have a liver with a DNA that matches the rest of their body, but their kidneys have a different DNA. Synthetic chimera gain their unique genetic makeup through transfusion or transplantation. Human organ transplants create a synthetic chimera. You’ve probably seen a sensational crime story where the criminal escapes because of his or her chimera blood type. And you’ve probably seen the recent sensational science news about a lab created monkey-human chimera. Research Scientists created chimeric mice in […]