【5/1/2021】CAPA-NoVA Distinguished Chinese American Project

(Written by: Xiaoyan Deng)

吴健雄(Chien-Shiung Wu) (‪1912-1997) was a Chinese American physicist.

Born in a small town near Shanghai, Wu went on to study physics at a university in Shanghai. In 1936, she enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley where she completed her Ph.D.

In 1944, Wu joined the Manhattan Project at the Substitute Alloy Materials (SAM) Lab at Columbia University, focusing on radiation detectors. She is believed to have been the only Chinese person to have worked on the Manhattan Project.

In 1956, Wu’s experiments proved that identical nuclear particles do not always act alike. This resulted in theoretical physicists Tsung Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang receiving the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics for their theory, but Wu’s work was not acknowledged.

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Wu continued making significant contributions throughout her life and won several awards and honors. In 1958, her research helped answer important biological questions about blood and sickle cell anemia. She was also the first woman to serve as president of the American Physical Society. Her awards include the National Medal of Science, the Comstock Prize, and the first honorary doctorate awarded to a woman at Princeton University. She also won the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978. Her book Beta Decay, published in 1965, is still a standard reference for nuclear physicists.

In 2021, Wu became only the eighth full-time physicist to be honored with a United States Postal Service postage stamp.

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More information about Chien-Shiung Wu:



【Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us! 】

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