Heroines of Modern Physics
March Meeting 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A course at Xavier University called "Women who shaped modern physics" is aimed at undergraduate, non-physics majors. One of the scientists covered is Rosalind Franklin, whose historic x-ray pictures of DNA molecules helped to reveal their helical structure. Heidrun Schmitzer (paper K1.21) will describe how she and her colleagues bring this work to life in the lab. Instead of shooting X-rays at crystallized DNA, students will shoot laser light at the springs used in ballpoint pens. The structure of the springs will be deduced from diffraction patterns left on a screen 12 feet away. The diffraction pattern, says Schmitzer, looks strikingly similar to the famous Photo 51. Other topics in the course include Marie Curie and Radioactivity (the students measure the half-life of silver), Lise Meitner and Nuclear Fission (which is staged with ping pong balls), Jocelyn Burnell and Pulsars, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer and the Structure of the Atomic Nucleus.
Related March Meeting Session
The American Physical Society is the leading professional organization of physicists, representing more than 48,000 physicists in academia and industry in the United States and internationally. APS has offices in College Park, MD (Headquarters), Ridge, NY, and Washington, D.C.
Headquartered in College Park, MD, the American Institute of Physics is a not-for-profit membership corporation chartered in New York State in 1931 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare.