If asked to name a famous female physicist, the name Marie Curie is the one most likely to come to mind. But there are many others and one of the people who should be much better known is Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997), who used to be often referred to as Madame Wu.
It was her careful experimental work that showed that parity violation did indeed occur, as predicted by theoretical physicists Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee. Yang and Lee received the Nobel prize for this in 1957 but Wu’s contribution was not recognized, an omission that has been widely criticized.
Wu was a remarkable physicist who did receive many other honors, as can be read in this biographical article. She was the first Chinese-American elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1958 and in 1967 she served as the first female president of the American Physical Society.
Yesterday, on the occasion of the sixth International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the U.S. Postal Service issued a new forever stamp to honor her.