Mary Goeppert Mayer

Maria Goeppert Mayer . Physics, of German origin; winner of the Nobel Prize in 1963 for her discoveries related to nuclear structure. Together with Marie Curie they are the only two women who have received the Nobel Prize in Physics .


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  • 1 Biographical synthesis
    • 1 Childhood and youth
    • 2 Another stage of his life
    • 3 Death
  • 2 Nobel Prize
  • 3 Sources

Biographical synthesis

Childhood and youth

He was born on 28 of June of 1906 in Katowice belonging to Germany , now part of Poland .

It constitutes the seventh generation of university professors (a surname linked to science , in different disciplines, uninterruptedly for more than 200 years), of remarkable intelligence, showed from an early age inclinations for study and research, which led it first to Mathematics and then to Physics , a career he studied at the University of Göttiengen . In 1930 was the year of his marriage to Mayer, professor of chemistry and father of her two children Marianne and Peter. Together they embarked on the American adventure. His life was not exempt from discrimination against women in society.

Another stage of his life

At age 24 he graduated. Those were times when Physics was subject to great changes and discoveries: of particles, of atomic reactions, of the first accelerators (they were the dawn of quantum physics ). His thesis already constituted a contribution to this field: he developed a theory about the energy emitted by electrons .

Specifically, he calculated the probability of an electron emitting two protons (instead of one) while moving into an orbit closer to the nucleus. His theory and its solution were demonstrated decades later, in 1960 , through the use of lasers .

She wrote several articles with Karl F. Herzfeld , who encouraged her to work on the color of organic molecules.

In 1946 , he found his first post at the University, though always second-level, at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago , where he delved into nuclear physics. Two years later he begins to work on magic numbers, why nuclei with a certain number of neutrons and protons appear to be more stable than nuclei with a different number of elementary particles. These are the magic numbers. This model is particularly useful for explaining the different aspects of the fission process.

She was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1956 . After overcoming these difficulties, he managed to enter the University of California in 1960 .


He died on February 20 , 1972 in California. San Diego.

Nobel Prize


Mary Goeppert Mayer

His theory was joined by J. Hans D. Jensen, another physicist who from the other side of the Atlantic was working on the same hypothesis and reached the same conclusions. The union of these two talents was crucial in Maria’s life and for the future of Physics . A fruitful collaboration began with Hans Jensen , they published a book together that culminated, in 1963 , with the Nobel Prize in Physics for discoveries related to the atomic crust

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