The Google Doodle for today honors and commemorates the groundbreaking work of Romanian scientist Stefania Mrcineanu, who would have turned 140 today.
Although nothing is known about Mrcineanus’s early years and personal life, biographers Marlene and Geoffrey Rayner-Canham claims that it was a difficult childhood. The young scientist taught physical and chemical science at numerous high schools in the city, notably the Central School for Girls, after earning his degree from the University of Bucharest in 1910. Mrcineanu received a stipend from the Romanian Ministry of Science while he was teaching, and this finally led to him being hired for a graduate research job at the Radium Institute in Paris, France.
Stefania Mrcineanu worked under the guidance of scientist Marie Curie at one of the most renowned facilities for researching the effects of radiation and radioactivity. Even yet, the young Romanian started working on her doctoral dissertation on polonium, the very substance that Curie had just discovered.
Mrcineanu observed that the polonium half-life appeared to be influenced by the kind of metal it was placed on. This fact made her worry if the polonium’s alpha particles had converted some of the metal’s atoms into radioactive isotopes. What is generally regarded as the first instance of artificial radioactivity was produced by Stefania Mrcineans’ research.
Mrcineanu spent some time at the Radium Institute before completing her physics PhD at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Before going back to Romania, the following four years were spent working at the Astronomical Observatory in Meudon. Stefania Mrcineanu established the nation’s first radiation research laboratory in this location.
A true physicist in every way, Mrcineanu spent time studying artificial rain and traveled to Algeria to test her findings. She even researched the relationship between earthquakes and rainfall at this time, becoming the first to recognize that there is frequently a sizable spike in radioactivity at the epicenter prior to an earthquake.
Irne Currie, the daughter of Marie Curie, and her husband shared a Nobel Prize in 1935 for discovering artificial radioactivity, despite being among the top researchers and experts on the subject.
Mrcineanu requested that her contribution to the discovery be publicly acknowledged notwithstanding her decision to not contest the Nobel award. Despite being elected to serve as the Director of research at the Romanian Academy of Sciences in 1936, Mrcineanus’ work was never acknowledged internationally.
Sadly, tefania Mrcineanu passed away in 1944 from cancer, which was supposedly brought on by radiation exposure from her research and activities. In honor of the Curie Museum in Paris, where tefania Mrcineanu would have likely spent numerous hours, today’s Google Doodle depicts a straightforward laboratory. It also commemorates her career as a trailblazing female physicist and her 140th birthday.