Hilde Levi
Women in Judaism ~ Women in Judaism - Scientist

Hilde Levi

In spite of her Jewish heritage, Hilde Levi was able to obtain a doctorate degree in physics and chemistry at the University of Berlin in 1934, during the early stages of Hitler's rise to power. Realising that she did not have a future in Nazi Germany, she managed to secure a position at Niels Bohr's Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her primary preoccupation as a physicist was in the field of carbon-dating and she did pioneering work with radioactive isotopes and their potential application in the fields of medicine and biology – she was fundamentally important to the development of radiocarbon dating and autoradiography – the latter being the photographic technique by which you capture the pattern of decay emissions from radioactive substances. Along with Einstein, she was notable in her field for not contributing in any way to the weapons research project. In her later life she became a notable scientific historian, completing a book on her former boss, George de Hevesy. She died in 2003 an honorary doctor of the Humboldt University in Berlin – the very university that had expelled her in 1933.

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