Emmy Noether was no ordinary woman…need proof? How many people do you know can count Albert Einstein as a fan of their work? The legendary physicist once referred to Noether as, “The most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced,” a fitting endorsement for a mathematician who made groundbreaking contributions to the fields of abstract algebra and theoretical physics, all the while overcoming deep seated sexism in her line of work.
For Noether’s 133rd birthday, I thought it would be best to highlight the mathematician’s numerous accomplishments and shine a light on the influence Noether had on the world.
When I first started tackling this doodle, I originally drew several concepts attempting to visualize Noether’s Theorem due to it’s revolutionary impact on the way people approach physics. But after discussing my ideas with a few professionals in the field, I decided that the doodle should include references to her mathematical work too. Noether was passionate about math, despite living in an era where women were often excluded from these subjects. While studying at the University of Erlangen as just one of two women at the school, Noether was only allowed to audit classes and needed to obtain permission from her professors in order to attend. After passing her graduation exam, she taught at the school’s Mathematical Institute for seven years without pay, frequently covering her father’s classes when he was out sick and publishing her own papers.
But there weren’t any obstacles that would stop Noether from her studies. In this doodle, each circle symbolizes a branch of math or physics that Noether devoted her illustrious career to. From left to right, you can see topology (the donut and coffee mug), ascending/descending chains, Noetherian rings (represented in the doodle by the Lasker-Noether theorem), time, group theory, conservation of angular momentum, and continuous symmetries–and the list keeps going on and on from there! Noether’s advancements not only reflect her brilliance but also her determination in the face of adversity.
Doodle by Sophie Diao