Google Doodle: Faced with discrimination by male scientists, she was not only the first to discover the ‘greenhouse effect’ but also fought for women’s rights

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New Delhi: Google celebrates the 204th birth anniversary of Eunice Newton Foote, American scientist and women’s rights activist. He was the first person to discover the greenhouse effect and its role in warming the Earth’s climate.

Foote’s Early Life and Education

Foote was born on 17 Jul 1819 in Connecticut, USA. She attended Troy Female Seminary, a school that encouraged students to give science lectures and participate in chemistry labs. She fought against a society that was deeply bound and dominated by patriarchy, where female scientists were subjugated.

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Foote’s breakthrough discovery

Foote experimented on his own when he was ostracized by the scientific community. “After placing a mercury thermometer in a glass cylinder, he discovered that the cylinder containing carbon dioxide experienced the most significant heating effect in the sun,” the Google Doodle notes. Foote was ultimately the first scientist to make the connection between rising carbon dioxide levels and atmospheric warming.

The first two physics studies by women in the United States

After Foote published his findings, he published his second study on atmospheric static electricity in the Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. These were the first two physics papers published by a woman in the United States.

A male scientist presented his research at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1856. These discussions led to further experiments in what is known as the greenhouse effect – when gases such as carbon dioxide trap heat from the sun, the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere gradually rises.

Her role in women’s rights

Besides a lifelong passion for science, she also devoted time to campaigning for women’s rights. In 1848, Foote attended the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls. She was the fifth signatory of the Declaration of Sentiments – a document that demanded equality for women in social and legal status.

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