US Postal Service honours nuclear physicist Chien-Shiung Wu with a new postage stamp

A new postage stamp to honour Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu will be issued by the US Postal Service today, the sixth International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

One of the most influential nuclear physicists of the 20th century, Wu joins a short list of physicists featured on US stamps, which includes Albert Einstein.

Chien-Shiung Wu performed a famous experiment in 1956, to test the law of parity conservation, a widely accepted but unproven principle implying that a physical process and its mirror reflection are identical. She observed that in weak interactions, parity is not observed, overturning a decades old, intrinsic element of quantum mechanics. This breakthrough achievement earned Wu’s theoretical colleagues the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics, but the Nobel Committee overlooked her experimental contribution.

In addition to her famous parity law research, Wu carried out a series of important experiments in nuclear physics and quantum physics. She became the first Chinese-American elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1958 and served as the first female president of the American Physical Society in 1967. 

After she retired in 1987, she gave numerous lectures in the US and China to inspire younger generations to pursue a career in STEM. 

Sources: The Conversation, USPS 

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