Who on Earth is Inge Lehmann?

By Gary Cutlack on at

Click on today's Google Doodle that sits atop its search results -- a little exploded drawing of the planet -- and you'll be taken to a list of results telling you all about Inge Lehmann. Google's automated algorithm says it's her 127th birthday today, although we suspect she's dead. So that's fact #1.

Inge Lehmann was a geologist back in the 1920s...

Inge is a woman's name. A Danish woman's name. She was born in 1888 and lived to the impressive old age of 104, eventually being put into the earth she spent so much time examining and thinking about in 1993. As early as the 1920s the geologist suggested that there might be more inside our planet than just soil, rocks, dinosaur bones and worms, claiming there might be an inner core made of different stuff to the rest of it.

The Doodle in action

...who had an idea about the insides of the world...

Scientists agreed that this inner core theory was a good explanation for why the vibration waves from earthquakes appeared to slow down when travelling long distances through the planet, hence Lehmann goes down in history as the woman who sort of discovered the centre of the earth.

...and it's probably all thanks to us, really... 

We can claim her as our own, as she was educated in part at Cambridge University, studying maths, before honing her numeracy skills in an office job. She then landed in the seismological field by gaining a job as an assistant, before working her way up to become head of the department of seismology at the Geodetical Institute of Denmark.

...and is still around today...

Her name lives on in several ways. She's had a thing in space named after her, with asteroid 5632 also known as Ingelehmann by observers and the scientific community, plus the  American Geophysical Union hands out medals in her name to people who contribute more to the understanding of what goes on beneath the surface of the planet.

...but we can't find out if she was buried or cremated...

We hoped she was buried. Very deep.