Emmy Noether may be the most influential mathematician you’ve never heard of.
In 1918, she solved a puzzle in Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. To do that, she created a mathematical theorem that changed forever how scientists study the universe, one that remains a guiding star for theoretical physics.
Not only was she a scientific pioneer, Noether was by all accounts a delightful person, known for the festive gatherings at her home in Göttingen, Germany, where wine flowed amid spirited scholarly debate. She led students and colleagues on long walks through the countryside, talking math all the while.
But Noether had one big problem: She was a woman, in an era when science remained largely closed to women. A gifted student, she quickly earned her Ph.D. once women were allowed to enroll. But at the University of