Hertha Marks Ayrton became the first woman to present her own work to the U.K.’s Royal Society when she stood in front of the scientific academy in 1904 and read “The Origin and Growth of Ripple Marks.” Until then, scientists were baffled by the creation of ridges in sand when a wave washes over a beach.
To celebrate Ayrton’s scientific discoveries and victories over discrimination, Google has honored the British engineer, mathematician, physicist and inventor with a Doodle, on the 162nd anniversary of her birth. In addition to unlocking the mystery of ripples, Ayrton also became and expert on electric arcs, widely used in lighting at the time.
In 1906, the Royal Society awarded Ayrton with its prestigious Hughes Medal for her contributions to physical sciences. But the academy denied her the honor of becoming a fellow, because she was married. Addressing this kind of gender discrimination in science, Ayrton wrote: “An error that ascribes to a man what was actually the work of a woman has more lives than a cat.”
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