Women's Activism NYC

Huize He

1914 - 2011

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Huize He was a remarkable Chinese nuclear physicist who made significant contributions to the development and advancement of nuclear physics in both Germany and China. Born on March 5, 1914, in Suzhou, China, He Zehui's scientific achievements and pioneering work have left an indelible mark on the field of physics. He Zehui hailed from a family renowned for its scientific prowess. Alongside her older sister He Yizhen, an authority in spectroscopy and material science, and her younger sister He Zeying, a distinguished botanist, she was part of a formidable trio of women scientists. Together, they were sometimes referred to as "The Chinese Madame Curie," drawing parallels to the famous pioneering physicist. He Zehui's academic journey began at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where she graduated in 1936 with a degree in physics. Her passion and exceptional aptitude for the subject led her to pursue further studies at the Technical University of Berlin in Germany. There, she excelled as the top student in her class, outshining her future husband, Qian Sanqiang, who would also become an accomplished physicist. During her time in Germany, He Zehui worked on cutting-edge research in nuclear physics, drawing the attention of renowned scientists. She collaborated with Friedrich Paschen and Walther Bothe, making significant contributions to the study of radioactive particles and cosmic rays. Her work on Heinz Maier-Leibnitz's cloud chamber technology and her groundbreaking research on positron-electron scattering earned her recognition and international acclaim. Her findings were even published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature. After World War II, He Zehui and her husband relocated to Paris, where they joined the Marie Curie Institute in 1946. There, she continued her investigations into nuclear fission, deepening her understanding of this phenomenon. In 1948, she and her husband returned to China, bringing back their expertise and knowledge to contribute to the scientific development of their homeland. Upon their return, He Zehui became a research fellow at the National Peking Research Academy, where she played a vital role in establishing the Nuclear Research Institute. Her dedication to nuclear physics and her groundbreaking experiments using nuclear emulsions earned her the third-place Science Award from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He Zehui's contributions to China's nuclear program were instrumental. She and her husband were entrusted with the task of developing an atomic bomb, which they successfully achieved in the 1950s. Alongside her research on nuclear weapons, she led the Neutron Physics Research Office and played a crucial role in the construction of China's first nuclear reactor and cyclotron. Despite the challenges posed by the Cultural Revolution, He Zehui persevered in her scientific pursuits. In the 1970s, she shifted her focus to cosmic rays and high-energy astrophysics. She fostered international collaboration by visiting renowned scientific institutions and furthering her research. Throughout her illustrious career, He Zehui garnered numerous accolades and honors. In 1980, she was elected to the esteemed Chinese Academy of Sciences. Her legacy continues to inspire future generations of scientists, and her achievements have solidified her status as an iconic figure in China's scientific community. Huize He's unwavering commitment to advancing the field of nuclear physics, her groundbreaking discoveries, and her passion for scientific exploration make her an exemplary figure in the world of science and a true trailblazer in the realm of Chinese physics.

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