Who on Earth is Hertha Marks Ayrton?

By Gary Cutlack on at

It's a big "Happy Birthday!" to Hertha Marks Ayrton, who according to Google's daily doodle, celebrates her 162nd birthday today. This makes her the oldest living woman in... no wait. She died ages ago, in 1923. What a silly error for Google to make.

What Does Google Say She Did Before She Died?
She was a mathematician, electrical engineer and physicist, best known for her work in describing how and why things ripple and leave marks; work she presented to the Royal Society in 1904, becoming the first woman to present her own science to the mass bearded faces of the men of the day.

What Else?
She was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society in 1906 for her work on electrical arcs, so was also quite the accomplished sparky. Despite a bit of a kerfuffle over sexism that saw her initially banned from presenting at the Royal Society, justice was belatedly done in 201o when it voted her one of the ten most influential British women in the history of science.

She also invented things, eventually registering a total of 26 patents for stuff like mathematical line dividers and electrical arc lamps.

Is There Stuff Named After Her? Has She Got A Satellite Or A Moon Crater?
Her interest in vortices inspired the Ayrton fan, a device used to help dispel poisonous gases in the first world war, a piece of equipment that would be used in the hellish battles of the Western Front. [Google]

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