World / Reporter's Journal

Woman scientist well remembered in China, US

By Chen Weihua (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-03-21 04:50

Receiving her PhD in 1940 under adviser Ernest Lawrence, founder of Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Wu taught for two years at Smith College and Princeton University. She joined the secret Manhattan Project in 1944 in the Substitute Alloy Materials Laboratories, a Columbia University-based facility focusing on the gaseous diffusion program for uranium enrichment.

Wu is best known for her 1956 experiment that disproved the conservation of parity. The experiment was regarded vital in securing fellow Chinese-born scientists Chen Ning Yang (also known as Yang Zhenning) and Tsung-Dao Lee (Li Zhengdao) the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics. Many scientists believe Wu should have been part of the team.

Wu had won numerous laurels. She was the first woman fellow of the American Physical Society in 1948, and became its first female president in 1957. Her honors also included the National Medal of Science in 1975, the first woman with an honorary doctorate from Princeton University in 1958, and the first person selected in 1978 to receive the Wolf Prize, regarded the highest after the Nobel.

Wu was unable to visit China until 1973, a year after the historic trip there by Richard Nixon. In Beijing, Wu was greeted by then-premier Zhou Enlai.

Her name and stories became widely known in China after she made more trips there in later years. She was professor emeritus at Nanjing University, Peking University and University of Science and Technology of China and elected one of the first foreign academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1994.

Wu died of a stroke on Feb 16, 1997, in New York. An asteroid (2752 Wu Chien-Shiung) was named after her in 1990. There are the Chien-Shiung Wu Library and a scholarship named after her at Nanjing University. At the Southeast University, also in Nanjing, the Chien-Shiung Wu Memorial Hall hosts an extensive exhibition of her lifetime achievements that continue to inspire many Chinese.

Contact the writer at


Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Trudeau visits Sina Weibo
May gets little gasp as EU extends deadline for sufficient progress in Brexit talks
Ethiopian FM urges strengthened Ethiopia-China ties
Yemen's ex-president Saleh, relatives killed by Houthis
Most Popular
Hot Topics