Wu Jianxiong

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Wu Jianxiong (also Chien-Shiung Wu) was a famous physicist.

She was born in Taicang County, Jiangsu province, in 1912. She obtained a doctor's degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1940. In 1956, she verified that, unlike all other known physical forces, the "weak" interactions among decaying particles were not always symmetrical in nature. This experiment astonished the world. She was made an honorary professor of the Department of Physics at Columbia University. For her great academic contributions, she received honorary doctorates from 16 universities worldwide.

To commend her outstanding contribution in physics, on Nov. 19, 1991, Columbia University awarded her the most prestigious prize of their school, the Pupin Medal. The Consulate-General of China in the US hosted a banquet in celebration of her achievements and released previously insider-only information kept for over 50 years: Wu's research achievements in her doctor's thesis helped the US successfully experiment on their first atomic bomb.

Around 1939, the US Army's secret efforts to develop an atomic bomb, dubbed the "Manhattan Project," were under way. Top scientists had decided that Wu's expertise was needed, and they were right. When an atomic chain reaction stopped unexpectedly during testing, the legendary scientist Enrico Fermi was puzzled. Wu was familiar with a rare gas produced by nuclear fission that had halted the reaction. Her knowledge cleared up the problem and enabled the research to proceed. Wu also helped develop a process to enrich uranium ore to produce large quantities of uranium fuel for the bomb. Her work was vital to the historic effort.