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10 Surprising Scientific Inventions and Discoveries by Women

Cheryl Brite April 20th 2016 Technology
Men aren’t the only ones who can invent and discover things in the world. Women have made a significant impact in the world of invention and discovery throughout history. They have created inventions and discoveries that are still relevant today. Women were hardly recognized in the past for what they could contribute to the world. What an injustice? Here are women that should be acknowledged for their inventions and discoveries.
1. The Submarine Telescope - Sarah Mather
Sarah Mather gave us a view of the ocean floor when she patented the submarine telescope in 1845. If she hadn't patented this amazing invention, it would have never been acknowledged as hers. So before 1845 we didn’t even know the ocean had a floor. How amazing is that? People thought that the ocean went on for days. Without Mather's invention of the submarine telescope, we would have been in the dark about the floor of the ocean.
It was originally used for inspecting boats. The submarine used a lamp like device that was placed on the glass globe of the submarine, which sunk in the water. From their boats people could see the hull and other details of the boat. If boats needed repairing, the submarine telescope was used to identify the problems so they could get the necessary repairs to function properly. With its ability to float under the water and its ability to use light, this telescope would still be useful today. It may have accidently discovered the ocean floor, but we are forever grateful to know more about our oceans.
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2. The Windshield Wiper - Mary Anderson
Mary Anderson invented the windshield wipers in 1902. It figures that a woman would invent a practical accessory to keep away the elements from sticking to the windshield. We use it today on cars to wipe off snow, rain, and other debris. What would we do without this lifesaving function on our cars? Can you even imagine what it was like before the 1900's? Be very thankful for your windshield wipers.
In 1903 she was given a patent for this invention. Her invention came about in New York City when she saw drivers opening their car windows when it was raining to see the road. As a result she created this invention where a lever was used from the inside of the car to move the rubber blade on the outside of the car. The public wasn't so sure about this invention because it seemed to be a huge distraction for the driver. In 1916 it was used on most cars. She finally patented the idea in 1917.
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3. Organism Discovery - Nettie Stevens
In 1905 Nettie Stevens came across an interesting discovery through several of her studies and found out that the sex of an organism was directly linked to its chromosomes rather than its environment. Whether we’re a human male or female or any animal like a grasshopper, chicken, or bee, what lies deep within our bodies decides our fate and our environment is just an afterthought. Like most discoveries this one was met with some skepticism. What an amazing discovery? Imagine how controversial this idea was at the time. This idea paved the way for future scientists.
She was a geneticist and the first researcher to explain the chromosomal basis of sex. Stevens was acknowledged as one of the first women that contributed to science. To determine whether her discovery had any foundation, she used insects in her experiments. She found that the presence or the absence of the Y chromosome depends on the sex of the chromosome. Because of her research Stevens changed the fields of embryology and cytogenetics. Her discovery has no doubt influenced the world we live in when it comes to sex.
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4. Radioactivity - Marie Curie
Marie Curie discovered Radioactivity in 1910, which is ironic because it was the very thing that killed her in the end. How tragic? I think we’ve all learned a lesson here to never carry around test tubes of radiation in our pockets for extended periods of time. It's a real hazard. In this case no risk no reward. Her discovery is still relevant today.
This discovery opened the doors to how scientists approached matter and energy. Curie also had an influence in paving the way for the knowledge of medicine and finding cures for diseases. Curie studied the rays of radium in the 1890's. She studied compounds with uranium in them and found out that if there were a certain amount of uranium atoms that there were a certain intensity of radiation. This was how the discovery of radioactivity began for Curie. She had used radioactivity to save the lives of soldiers by using this element to destroy the the diseased tissue in patients.
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5. The Turn Signal Light - Florence Lawrence
Florence Lawrence invented the turn signal in 1914 and thank god she did or else we’d all be crashing into one another on the road. It makes you really think. How did people survive without the turn signal? Unfortunately she didn’t patent the idea so she didn’t receive credit for the invention. How awful is that? She invented this life changing device, and her name isn't even on it.
Before the turn signal, people would have to stick their hands out the car window and gesture with their hands. To signal left people had to put their arm straight out the window, to signal right people rested their had against the open window,pointing the hand to the sky, and to stop people had to face your arm downward towards the street. We still have to know these actions today to prepare for our driving test. In the past there was no relief from this until Lawrence came and changed the world of driving, forever. She came up with the first mechanical signaling arm as well as the brake signal. So we don't have to use our arms to signal and we can let people know when we're braking because of her.
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6. Nuclear Fission - Lise Meitner
In the 1930’s Lise Meitner discovered Nuclear Fission while involved in her work in nuclear physics. It goes to show that great discoveries come in the unexpected ways. Nuclear Physics, these two words alone intimidate me but Nuclear Fission occurs when the atomic nuclei splits into two, which led the way to the atomic bomb. Nuclear Fission has clearly made an impact in the world. She led the way for future scientists. This was a big discovery in its time.
Her discovery was overlooked by the Noble committee, probably because she was a woman. The personal opinions of men overshadowed what a difference she made in the scientific community with her discovery of nuclear fission. She did receive "Woman of the Year" in 1946 by the National Press Club and other rewards. Otto Hahn had been credited with the discovery of nuclear fission and given the Nobel Peace Prize when Meitner was the one who made the discovery. She made a significant contribution to the world of science, and she couldn't even be recognized for her discovery because of her gender. Well she's being recognized now in this article.
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7. Frequency-Hopping - Hedy Lamarr
How could an talented movie actress invent frequency-hopping? This is a case of beauty and brains, and she was so much more than an actress. When she became bored with this profession, she turned to her interest in applied science. Hedy Lamarr co-created this invention with George Antheil that involves the switching of frequencies during radio transmissions. She patented the invention with her husband’s last name in 1942. While this action doesn’t seem like she’s fully acknowledging her part, her invention led the way to Bluetooth and other technologies that we use today.
This discovery came to light during World War II when Lamarr was determined to help the war effort. She used frequency-hopping to stop the jamming of radio communication by the Axis. It was also used to guide a torpedo using the frequency-hopping technology, so the signal would not be intercepted. The discovery wasn't taken in until the 1960's by the navy. In 2014 she was recognized by her accomplishment when she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. She was finally recognized for her invention and not for just being another pretty actress on the movie screen.
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8. Lambda Bacteriophage - Esther Lederberg
In 1951 Esther Lederberg discovered Lambda Bacteriophage, a virus that infects bacteria. This virus impacted the medical world. It was something that needed to be acknowledged, so a potential cure could be made. As if bacteria weren’t threatening enough, a virus comes along to make it worse but the bacteria does look like it’s starring in vibrant, color film of horror. Although it seems harmless, it can do some real damage. We can't see it if we're not looking for it, and that's possibly the most frightening thing about this virus.
It is a rare virus, and its life cycle is complex. This virus contributed greatly to the invention of molecular biology. It originally came from E. coli. The Lambda is used in the creation of recombinant DNA in technology. The cycles within the virus help us understand the process of gene transcription. Lambda Bacteriophage was also used as a cloning vector, which is a piece of DNA take from a virus that can eventually be used for cloning purposes.
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9. The DNA Double Helix - Rosalind Franklin
In the 1950’s Rosalind Franklin discovered the DNA Double Helix while she was working on X-ray diffraction images of DNA. Images really do lead to real life discoveries that can change the world. This discovery is still studied today by scientist. Because of the DNA Double Helix, the medical world has a better understanding of the human body. It wouldn't have this understanding without Franklin's discovery. We know what it is, and what it can do.
The DNA Double Helix, known as deoxyribonucleic acid, is a molecule that is double stranded in the shape of a helix. Each individual strand contains sugar-phosphate backbone and other base chemicals attached in pairs. Adenine (A), thymine (T), cystosine (C), and guanine (G) are four parts that create the stairs. These stairs are instructions for the host cell. This DNA code is complex and gives information to the organic cell. It maybe complex in its structure, but its discovery happened by chance.
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10. Pulsars - Jocelyn Bell Burnell
They are now known as the "lighthouses" of the universe. The pulsar gets its name from how their emissions look like they're pulsating in space. In 1967 Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered these Pulsars, which are remnants of stars that become supernova. What an amazing thing to witness through a telescope or as an astronaut who is in the direct path of the Pulsar? It's one of the universe's most beautiful natural occurrences. The pictures online don't give this discovery justice.
Pulsars have a high magnetic element and move at great speeds. As you all ready know when a star dies, it becomes a supernova. This occurs when the outer layer of the star is blasted into space. The inner core of the star then contracts down with the help of gravity. The pressure is so much that takes away the bonds that keep atoms apart. In the end the star creates a blast of radiation that becomes a pulsar.

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