April 5, 1887 – Birth of Hedwig Kohn, a Jewish physicist ahead of her time

Physicist Hedwig Kohn, the daughter of wealthy German parents, was born on April 5, 1887 in the city of Wrocław, now Wrocław, Poland.

Despite the difficulties that women had in those days to study at the university, Kohn managed to attend, in 1907, as a "visited student", becoming the second woman to enter the Department of Physics at the University of Wrocław. Fortunately the situation changed and she managed to graduate from it, later obtaining her doctorate in 1913.

She was appointed Otto Lummer's assistant and finally, in 1930, after many years of waiting, she received her qualification to teach at the university, a status hitherto reserved only for men. Thus, along with Lise Meitner and Hertha Sponer, she was one of three women to qualify to teach physics before World War II.

In 1933, due to Nazi regulations that prohibited Jews from holding public office, Hedwig was dismissed from her post and in 1940 emigrated to Sweden, but not before taking advantage of a three-month stay in Switzerland to measure the intensity of ultraviolet light from the sun. sun. After several years, she settled in the United States after obtaining a visa. There she taught physics at various university institutions until her retirement in 1952, after which time she was invited as a research assistant in physics at Duke University, North Carolina, where she set up a laboratory and worked until almost the end. of her life. Kohn died on November 26, 1964 in Durham, North Carolina.

Hedwig Kohn worked on the quantitative determination of light intensity, contributing to atomic and molecular spectroscopy. His work over the years has resulted in more than 20 publications and hundreds of pages of textbooks that have been used to introduce students around the world to the field of radiometry (a set of techniques for measuring electromagnetic radiation , including visible light).

If you want to know more about this physics ahead of her time, click on the following link: Hedwig Kohn

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