Born 101 years ago today, Julia Robinson helped define the limits of mathematical understanding.
EMILY CONOVER / Science News
Noether was a leading mathematician of her day. In addition to her theorem, now simply called “Noether’s theorem,” she kick-started an entire discipline of mathematics called abstract algebra. CONSTANT BEAUTY Symmetries imply that certain quantities are conserved, according to Noether’s theorem. The equation above expresses that concept: The quantity in the parentheses doesn’t change over time. E. OTWELL But in her career, Noether couldn’t catch a break. She labored unpaid for years after earning her Ph.D. Although she started working at the University of Göttingen in 1915, she was at first permitted to lecture only as an “assistant” under a male colleague’s name. She didn’t receive a salary until 1923.