Podcast #60: Emmy Noether

For our 60th episode, we bring back the presenter who appeared in our very first podcast episode, writer and translator Karen Margolis. Drawing from her own history in higher mathematics, Karen ably tells the tale of Germany’s Emmy Noether, who developed key theorems in theoretical physics and made important contributions to abstract algebra. Excluded from academic positions in Germany as a woman, she worked unpaid and under other lecturers’ names. Once she was finally allowed to teach in 1919, she had only 14 years until the Nazis banned her from universities, as a Jew. In American exile, she taught at the women’s college Bryn Mawr and occasionally at Princeton, though she felt she was not welcome at “the men’s university, where nothing female is admitted.”  Nowadays, everything from fellowships to a crater on the moon has honored Emmy, so it was clearly our turn to do so. 

DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins producer/host Susan Stone to introduce things. 

Also available on SpotifyApple PodcastsRadioPublicPocket CastsStitcherGoogle Podcasts, and Acast.

Show notes:

Emmy Noether with her three brothers
Emmy Noether with her three brothers
Plaque on the house where Noether was born
The plaque on the building where Emmy Noether was born, in Erlangen
David Hilbert, 1912, with hat
An early supporter, the British mathematician David Hilbert with his trademark hat
Emmy's doctorate
Title page of Emmy Noether’s doctorate, which translates as “On Complete Systems of Invariants for Ternary Biquadratic Forms”
An algebraic formula
And a typical example of one of her innovative and exciting algebraic formulae
Emmy in Göttingen
Content at last, now that she can teach
A group of mathematicians outside a restaurant, smiling
Emmy at the centre of things, on an excursion with fellow mathematicians
Noether's Theorem
Noether’s theorem, described as beautiful and symmetrical
Emmy deep in thought with pen and paper
Deep in thought
Emmy Noether's memorial, a stone plaque on the ground at Bryn Mawr College
Emmy Noether’s modest memorial at Bryn Mawr College
The Emmy Noether High School in Berlin, a 1970s building resplendent in red and faded yellow
The beautiful, symmetrical Emmy Noether High School in Berlin
Cheerful Emmy on a boat, wearing dark clothing with a pale flower in her collar, round glasses and a smile.
A cheerful photo to finish off

A couple of book recommendations if you want to splash some cash to find out more: Proving It Her Way: Emmy Noether, A Life in Mathematics by David E. Rowe and Mechthild Koreuber, and Emmy Noether’s Wonderful Theorem by Dwight E. Neuenschwander.

And here’s the Emmy Noether page on Etsy, for your paper doll and inspirational poster needs.