Inge Lehmann, who discovered that earth has both an inner and outer core, should be inspiration for any young woman with dreams of becoming a scientist, and on Wednesday Google honored the pioneering seismologist’s 127th birthday with a new animated Doodle.
Lehmann, born on May 13, 1888, made her discovery by analyzing P-waves (primary waves), a high velocity seismic wave that is the first to be recorded by seismographs because it travels through the earth’s core more quickly.
In 1929 Lehmann was studying a large earthquake near New Zealand and observed that some P-waves seemed to bounce off a boundary. This caused a higher frequency of seismic activity within a “shadow zone.” She attributed the phenomenon to an inner core made of different materials. Proven correct, the shadow zone today called the “Lehmann Discontinuity.”
Lehmann was educated at a progressive school that valued equal treatment between genders. But when her professional career took off she often faced discrimination for being a woman, once being quoted as saying, “You should know how many incompetent men I had to compete with — in vain.”
Be that as it may, the pioneering scientist left her mark by making one of the most important seismological discoveries of all time.
She died on Feb. 21, 1993, at the age of 105.