Who was Chien Shiung Wu?
DEATH: February 16, 1997
HOMETOWN: Jiangsu, China
Chien Shiung Wu made significant contributions in the field of nuclear physics as a Chinese-American experimental physicist. Firstly, Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for separating uranium metal into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. Secondly, she is best known for conducting the Wu experiment, which contradicted the hypothetical law of conservation of parity.
This discovery resulted in her colleagues Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang winning the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics, and also earned Wu the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978. Her expertise in experimental physics eventually evoked comparisons to Marie Curie. Her nicknames include “the First Lady of Physics”, “the Chinese Madame Curie”, and the “Queen of Nuclear Research.”