Maria Goeppert-Mayer Facts

Maria Goeppert-Mayer Facts
Maria Goeppert Mayer (June 28, 1906 to February 20, 1972) was an American theoretical physicist. In 1963 she received the Nobel Prize in Physics for proposing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus. She was the second female Nobel laureate in physics, after Marie Curie.
Interesting Maria Goeppert-Mayer Facts:
Maria Goeppert was born in Kattowitz, Germany.
In 1910 the family moved to Gottingen where her father accepted the position of professor of pediatrics at the University of Gottingen.
She studied at the Hohere Technische school for girls who planned to attend university.
In 1921 she entered the Frauenstudium, which was another private college prep school for girls.
She took the university entrance exam in 1923 and in 1924 entered the University of Gottingen where she majored in physics.
Her 1930 doctoral thesis was written on the theory of possible two-photon absorption by atoms and it wasn't until 1961 when the invention of the laser made the first verification of her theory possible.
On June 19, 1930 she married Joseph Edward Mayer and moved to his home in the United States.
He was offered an assistant professorship at Johns Hopkins University where Goeppert-Mayer was allowed to work as an assistant in the Physics Department.
She was paid a stipend and allowed access to the laboratory facilities and taught a few classes.
In 1935 she published an important paper on beta decay.
In the summers of 1931 to 1933 she returned to Gottingen to work with Max Born but when the Nazis came to power in 1933 he lost his job.
In 1937 Joseph Mayer accepted a post at Columbia University and Goeppert-Mayer received an office but no salary.
In 1939 she became friends with Harold Urey and Enrico Fermi who were working at Columbia.
Fermi asked her to research the valence shell of elements with atomic numbers greater than 92.
She correctly predicted a new atomic series.
In December 1941 she accepted a part-time teaching position at Sarah Lawrence College.
In 1942 she accepted a part-time research position at Columbia's Substitute Alloy Materials laboratory to separate out uranium-235 isotope from natural uranium for use in the Manhattan Project.
Edward Teller invited join the Opacity project at Columbia University which studied the properties of matter and radiation in conditions of extreme heat for use in thermonuclear weapons.
From February to July 1945 she worked with Teller at the Los Alamos Laboratory.
She programmed the ENIAC computer at Aberdeen Proving Ground to solve criticality problems for a liquid metal cooled reactor.
In 1950 she published her mathematical model for the structure of nuclear shells, explaining why certain numbers of nucleons in a nucleus result in stable configurations and co-authored a book with Hans Jensen titled Elementary Theory of Nuclear Shell Structure.
In 1960 she became full-professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.
In 1965 she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The American Physical Society created the Maria Goeppert Mayer Award.


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