Hedwig Kohn, The Physicist, Gets A Google Logo
Google today is honoring the contributions of Hedwig Kohn. Hedwig Kohn German-American physicist who was one of the only three women to obtain habilitation, the qualification for university teaching of physics in Germany before World War II. She also had to flee Germany during the Nazi rule, as she was Jewish.
She was born on April 5, 1887 in Wrocław, Poland and died at the age of 76 on 1964 in the United States in Durham, North Carolina.
Taking us inside Hedwig Kohn’s lab, today’s Doodle by Hamburg-based guest artist Carolin Löbbert celebrates the life and science of the pioneering physicist. After earning her doctorate in 1913, Kohn went on to become one of only three women certified to teach physics at a German university before World War II.
As a Jewish woman living in Nazi Germany, Kohn was barred from her teaching position in 1933. She spent the next several years fulfilling research contracts in industrial physics before fleeing to the US in 1940. There, she returned to her passion, teaching at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina and Wellesley College in Massachusetts until 1952. After retiring from the classroom, Kohn took on a research associate position at Duke. In the sub-basement of the school’s physics building, where her lab was located, she directed Ph.D students in their research while continuing her own work in flame spectronomy something she had started in 1912.
Over the years, Kohn’s work resulted in more than 20 publications, one patent, and hundreds of textbook pages that were used to introduce students to the field of radiometry (a set of techniques meant to measure electromagnetic radiation, including visible light) well into the 1960s.