In landmark experiment in physics Wu discovered that Nature has a preference for right or left. It were the proposers of this asymmetry though who ran away with the the Nobel prize. Madam Wu wasn't awarded one.

Now proposing such a theory isn't that difficult. Showing that this is actually the case is. The experiment was proposed by the ones who proposed the idea. They ran away with the prize.

Why wasn't she awarded the Nobel Prize? Because she was female and Asian? Or what?

  • $\begingroup$ Just female. Yang and Lee who got the prize she didn't in 1957 were also Asians. On the other hand, Watson and Crick did not even bother to credit Rosalind Franklin when they got their Nobel prize for DNA in 1962. At least, Wu got Wolf prize 20 years later, as a consolation. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Jul 20 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Conifold This is the first time I hear about a third person involved in the discovery of the structure of DNA. That figures... They could have mentioned her at least $\endgroup$ – Deschele Schilder Jul 20 at 8:28
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    $\begingroup$ WP linked. Sharing NPs between theorists and experimentalists is always tense and complicated, cf. the Englert-Higgs-CERN prize. But Lee and Yang did not just propose the experiment. They dared propose the breakdown of a universally accepted "law of nature" that wasn't, and thereby explained away a devilish puzzle, τ-θ. They stuck their neck out, gambling their reputation. $\endgroup$ – Cosmas Zachos Jul 20 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ E Bertozzi's article sheds light on the full picture. Had the other two experimental groups not finished up so close to her, she would have likely shared in the prize. As things stood, the NP committee had a valid excuse to "first" address the theory prize, and "defer" the experimental one to the future... $\endgroup$ – Cosmas Zachos Jul 20 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @CosmasZachos Hi there! Was the law that left and right are the same that sacred? If they proposed it and risked their professional head, so to speak, then the prize was certainly deserved. If it had turned out that the lr symmetry was respected by Nature then maybe they would indeed have been, eeehh, expelled or something like that. Or maybe not but they risked it. Luckily Wu performed the experiment. How would the weak interaction would have looked like in the case the symmetry wasnt broken? Just without gamma 5? And left as well as righthanded neutrinos? (Physics again...). $\endgroup$ – Deschele Schilder Jul 20 at 20:59

I think it is clear by now. As Cosmas Zachos pointed out, the theory was not just proposed. The symmetry between left and right was regarded almost as sacred. Nature was written not right- and not left-handed. Allah, JHWH, or God was not prejudiced or discriminating. So proposing a model that went against this was almost blasphemy. It could cost your career (which is why it is better not to have one maybe). So the Nobel Prize for Lee and Yang was well-deserved. If the creator truly showed a preference remains to be seen. In our part of the universe yes but maybe there is another part were only anti particles exist (mirror universe).

Now at the time madame Wu did her experiment there were three other experiments done. They didn't involve nuclear beta radiation but different stuff to look for the asymmetry. Shortly after one another (just days) these were finished. Ledermann, working at the same university as Wu, heard about her experiment and proposed another experiment. He and some collegues work the whole weekend like mad scientists. Wu could not be the first! Did she refuse to go out with Ledermann maybe? Who knows. The result was that he got arrived later than madame Wu's.

So there were four results in a few days. To whom assign the Nobel Prize. To nobody, and that included Wu.There you go...


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