Newton’s second law of motion states that an object’s acceleration is dependent on two factors: the force acting on the object and its mass.
Apply this law to the momentum of women in science, and Italian physicist and professor—Laura Bassi—emerges as an primary force for propelling scientific progress forward.
On this day in 1732, Bassi effectively defended 49 theses to become one of the first women in Europe to get a PhD.
The present Doodle celebrates Laura Maria Catarina Bassi, who was born in Bologna, Papal States (current Italy) in 1711.
A child prodigy, she was debating top academics on the history of philosophy and physics by 20; an uncommon achievement at a time in which women were to a great excluded from higher education.
By 1732, Bassi was an household name in Bologna, and following her thesis defense, she became the first female member from the Bologna Academy of Sciences, one of Italy’s foremost scientific institutions. Because of gender discrimination, her position at the Academy was restricted, at this point she persisted.
Bassi apprenticed under eminent Bologna professors to learn calculus and Newtonian physics, an order she spread across Italy for just about 50 years.
A lifelong teacher of physics and philosophy, she supplemented her education with innovative research and experiments on subjects going from power to hydraulics.
Bassi consistently fought for gender equality in education all through her exploring career; endeavors that culminated in 1776 when the Bologna Academy of Sciences selected her a professor of experimental physics—making Bassi the first woman offered an official teaching position at an European university.
Here’s to you, Laura Bassi!
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