University of Pittsburgh
AIP Center for History of Physics Intern
American Institute of Physics
For one hundred and fifty years, credit for discovering the heat absorption properties of carbon dioxide and water vapor was awarded to the famous Irish physicist, John Tyndall, and his 1859 experiment. It was not Tyndall, however, who concluded three years earlier, “an atmosphere of this gas [carbon dioxide] would give to our Earth a high temperature.” Born in 1819, Eunice Newton Foote was an amateur scientist, inventor, and suffragette. Interested in the climate of the geologic past, she recreated different atmospheric conditions in glass jars and measure temperature change when exposed to the sun’s light. Today, amidst record-breaking heatwaves, droughts, and floods, we experience her conclusion first hand, as climate change impacts our daily lives. Despite her pioneering contributions and prophetic conclusion, her work was ignored and her name forgotten. This talk will discuss her work, the factors that contributed to suppressing her discovery, and my experience researching her for teaching guides and a Physics Today Online article.
I am a graduating senior at the University of Pittsburgh and will have degrees in both Physics and Communication & Rhetoric. I have loved astronomy for as long as I can remember and currently lead an undergraduate astronomy research group, STEPUP, confirming exoplanet transits for NASA’s TESS mission. In addition to physics, I love history, traveling, and being outside, hiking, biking, and practicing yoga. I am extremely excited to combine my interests in physics, history, and communication as this year’s Center for History of Physics and AIP Archives intern. Though I haven’t completely given up on my dream to be an astronaut, I want to leverage my communication and physics background to make science more accessible to the general public through outreach or policy.