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Chien-Shiung Wu

Chien-Shiung Wu (吳健雄 Pinyin: W Jinxong) (May 31, 1912 - February 16, 1997) was a Chinese American physicist with an expertise in radioactivity who worked on the Manhattan Project (to enrich the Uranium fuel) and disproved the conservation of parity. Her nicknames to many scientists are the "First Lady of Physics" and "The Madame Curie of China.".

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Although her ancestral family home is Liuhe Township (瀏河鎮), Taicang County (太倉縣) (now City (太仓市)), Jiangsu, Chien-Shiung Wu was born in Shanghai to Wu Zhongyi (吳仲裔) and Fan Fuhua (樊復華). Wu Zhongyi was a proponent of gender equality who opened Mingde Women's Vocational Continuing School (明德女子職業補習學校), where Chien-Shiung Wu spent her elementary education until she left her hometown at 11 to the Suzhou[?] Women's Normal School[?] No. 2, where she heard a lecture by Hu Shih, whose reformist ideology she shared. Perhaps inspired by the meeting, she went to the Public School of China (中國公學) founded by Hu in 1929. She then attended the National Central University (中央大學), Nanjing (1930 -1934). For two years after her graduation, she worked with another female researcher Jing Weijing (靜薇進) in the university.


In 1936, she went to the USA with a female friend, Dong Ruofen (董若芬), a chemist of Taicang. Wu studied at UC Berkley, received her Ph.D in 1940. She married Luke Chia-Liu Yuan (袁家騮), also a physicist, two years later. They had a son, Vincent (袁緯承), who became a physicist as well. The family moved to the East Coast, where Wu taught at Smith College, Princeton University, and Columbia University (1957).

She assisted Tsung-Dao Lee personally in his parity laws development (with Chen Ning Yang) by providing him with a possible test method for beta decay in 1956 that worked successfully. Some consider this very instrumental in the creation of the laws, but she was not awarded the Nobel Prize. Her book Beta Decay (1965) is still a standard reference for nuclear physicists. She then conducted researches in molecular changes in the deformation of hemoglobins that cause sickle-cell anemia.

Wu made precedents for womankind on several ocassions:

Wu won the National Medal of Science in 1975.


Chinese Academy of Sciences[?] named Asteroid 2752 after her in 1990. In 1995, four Chinese and Taiwanese Nobellists -- Tsung-Dao Lee, Chen Ning Yang, Samuel C. C. Ting, and Yuan T. Lee -- founded the Wu Chien Shiung Education Foundation in Taiwan for the purposes of scholarships for young scientists.

She died two years later at the age of 84 of stroke in Manhattan, USA. Her cremated ash was buried in Mingde Senior High School (successor of Mingde Women's School), along side with that of her husband (died February 2003). The tombstone inscribed with the calligraphy by Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang (for Wu), and Samuel Ting and Yuan T. Lee (for Yuan).

In June 1, 2002, a bronze statue of Wu was placed in the courtyard of Mingde High.

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