Wikipedia:WikiProject Biography/Peer review/Emmy Noether

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Emmy Noether[edit]

I've reconstructed this article (about the most important woman mathematician of all time, according to Einstein and others) with the goal of making it an FA. The math and physics stuff is still trickling in (though I think we're nearly where we need to be), but the biography is pretty complete. (I have no skill in math or science, so while I welcome comments/questions on those matters, other folks may have to respond.) Thanks in advance to everyone who takes a look. – Scartol • Tok 14:47, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Comments from Karanacs

I'm totally impressed with the quality of the writing. Good job :) There are a few things I had questions about:

  • He received a doctorate from the University of Heidelberg in 1868 – the first in his family to do so - the first to receive a doctorate? The first to receive a degree from the University of Heidelberg? This level of higher education was fairly rare, I think, so this might not be necessary to include.
  • It's the former, but I agree that we can take it out. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Is Fritz's birth year known? The other two brothers have a birth year listed.
  • Added. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Do you know what exactly this means " she worked at the University of Erlangen's Mathematical Institute, without pay"? Did she just continue to do research and make use of their facilities or did she have actual duties (beyond subbing for her father)? Is there any information about why she chose to stay there?
  • She taught. I changed the wording here and in the instance below. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • There should be a citation after each quotation (even it that means duplicating citations in subsequent sentences). This one didn't have a specific citation "What will our soldiers think when they return to the university and find that they are required to learn at the feet of a woman?"
  • Done and done. I assumed the citation at the end of the exchange was understood to cover this too, but it makes sense to be over-cautious. Lemme know if you find any others. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • She spent many years working in an unpaid role. Is it known whether she was supported by her parents or had her own money?
  • She got money from her parents. Fixed. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Is this referring to a specific instance or was this a regular occurrence? "When "outsiders" visited Noether's lectures, it took only thirty minutes for them to leave in frustration or confusion" It seems a little odd to me, but I have a feeling if it was explained further it would just bog down the paragraph.
  • I tried to fix it without the bog: "Outsiders" who occasionally visited Noether's lectures usually spent only thirty minutes in the room before leaving in frustration or confusion. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • "Her colleagues have expressed frustration at the fact that she was never elected to the Göttingen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften (Academy of Sciences) and was never promoted to the position of Ordentlicher Professor" - which colleagues?
  • Her biographer, Auguste Dick, says: "What definitely was unfair, however, is that Emmy Noether was not elected into the Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften (Gottingen Academy of Sciences). This opinion is held by leading mathematicians even today, including some who did not belong to Noether's circle." Given the high esteem in which mathematicians from Hilbert to Einstein held her, I think it's reasonable to find this statement fair, even if we don't have precise names. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Why did she need to negotiate with the Rockefeller Foundation before going to Bryn Mawr?
  • It's a terrifically long and complicated story. Someone from Oxford apparently though Noether would be unhappy at Bryn-Mawr, but then it became clear that Oxford wasn't prepared to provide the necessary funding. Bryn-Mawr got a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, which I realized isn't mentioned in the article. I've added it. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I don't understand this - "Several results in algebraic geometry, such as the Brill–Noether theorem, the Noether–Lefschetz theorem, and several other Noether theorems, are named after her father Max Noether." - Were those Max's theorem's or Emmy's? This sentence makes it sound as if those were Max's, but the previous sentence was speaking of her work.
  • Agreed. Clarified. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I wonder if some of the mathematical concepts need to be explained a bit better. Most non-mathematicians won't know what Galois theory is, for example. The sections on Galois theory and invariant theory especially left me a bit lost. I could follow the others for the most part.
  • Okay, I'll have to bring in one of the math people for this. I confess a near-total ignorance on the math bits. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Ref 68, the Moon Duchin reference for "The Sexual Politics of Genius", doesn't list a publisher

Karanacs (talk) 15:50, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

  • Added. – Scartol • Tok 17:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks again for your review! – Scartol • Tok 17:37, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Thoughts from Jay Henry[edit]

It's so well done (and subsequently so over-my-head-technical) that I'm afraid I can be of little help. (You're too good for me!) Some scattered thoughts nonetheless.

  • I like the {{harvnb}} templates.
  • Yeah, I'm not sure how I feel about them. G-Guy makes a good case, and I suppose the hyperlink capability is good, but I really don't like sifting through all the template code. I think they're more well-suited to articles dealing with math and science than the humanities. (That's just me.) – Scartol • Tok 15:50, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I think we could possibly tighten the lead by shortening or removing "Noether provided a valuable contribution to the world of physics in 1915" as this is basically subsumed by the subsequent claim "one of the most important mathematical theorems ever proved in guiding the development of modern physics"
  • I think you're right. Done. – Scartol • Tok 15:50, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Did she always speak with a lisp, or just as a child? If she had a lifelong lisp it's somewhat more telling.
  • The sources only mention it in relation to childhood. I added the phrase "during childhood" to clarify. – Scartol • Tok 15:50, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I think it's okay to link important people in the lead and then on their first appearance in the body as well. I tend to think this is more helpful to the reader, although if you prefer to minimize blue links, I don't feel strongly about it. Hilbert and Klein in the start of Emmy_Noether#University_of_G.C3.B6ttingen made me think of this.
  • Yeah, they're linked in the section just above, about her work at Erlangen, when she visited Gottingen. Do you think we should also link (or link instead) at the start of the Gottingen section? – Scartol • Tok 15:50, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Ah, no. Just me being oblivious. It's perfectly appropriate as is. --JayHenry (talk) 04:44, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
  • When World War I ended, the German Revolution of 1918-19 brought a significant change in social attitudes, including more equal rights for women. "More equal" always makes me think of Animal Farm in that it's somewhat infelicitous. Perhaps just "more rights"?
  • Yes, agreed. Changed. – Scartol • Tok 15:50, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Three years later she was made an "unofficial associate professor", which – despite its official title – still did not provide her with a salary. Is "unofficial associate professor" really an official title? Seems like we need a different word than official in the second instance. Perhaps formal? Or, "despite the recognition... did not provide her with a salary."
  • "unofficial associate professor" is what the letter from the Prussian Minister read. I've added some more context to explain this more clearly. – Scartol • Tok 15:50, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • sometimes discussing advanced concepts with the latter through commentary on postcards. I wasn't sure what this meant. As in, they would mail them back and forth? Or sit down together at a table and scribble equations on them?
  • Mail them. Clarified in text. – Scartol • Tok 21:43, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • In other instances she allowed her colleagues and students to receive credit for her ideas, helping them develop their careers rather than demanding tribute. This could possible benefit from an example.
  • I agree, but the sources don't offer any. (Although two insist it's true.) I might strike it, but I think it's a valid claim, just one of which we can't give concrete examples. – Scartol • Tok 21:43, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I think that's okay. I suppose it mostly goes to show that she was effective at making sure she didn't receive the credit. --JayHenry (talk) 04:44, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
  • He began referring to her as der Noether. How common is the knowledge that der is the masculine definite article in German? I guess we can probably assume most readers of this article will know that?
  • I think it's fair to mention why this is significant. I've added a phrase to clarify. – Scartol • Tok 21:43, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I assume that Noether showed a devotion to the subject and her students that went beyond the regular school day is not supported only by once lecturing at the coffee house?
  • Okay, I added a mention of the post-purge meetings she held in her home. Thanks again for your careful attention to detail, JH! – Scartol • Tok 21:43, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • In the summer of 1934, she returned to Germany to see Artin this leaves me with the impression she was still there when the tumor was discovered. Or had she only visited Germany and was back at Bryn Mawr when it happened?

These are all minor nitpicks, none of which would prevent supporting at FAC. I can't really vouch for the math and would want to hear from someone who could. What an interesting person... how'd you get turned onto this topic, Scartol? --JayHenry (talk) 05:33, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Another thought: did Emmy herself ever reflect at all upon being the only woman in her field for much of her life? --JayHenry (talk) 05:37, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks so much for your review, Jay, and for your flattering feedback. She really didn't (from what I've found) comment about being one of the only women in the field (and certainly one of the only at her level). She seemed to take things like this in stride. (Whether it was bemused patience or simmering, angered biding of time, or oblivious subservience, I can't tell – but I strongly suspect the first.)
Why Emmy? I'll be honest: I went to the library (that big one you told me about) and just looked around for someone to research. Since I know nothing about math, I thought I'd expand my horizons in that field. My initial thought was to learn about a mathematician from what is now the Middle East, but I had trouble finding biographies about anyone. I stumbled upon Osen's book about Women in Mathematics, skimmed the bit about Noether, and found books to add to the stack. The rest is history. (Because the math and physics stuff has required me to rely on other folks so heavily, I'll probably stick to other fields in the future – I appreciate tremendously the assistance I've gotten, but I hate feeling so helpless while working on major sections of a piece.)
I should note that I was struck by the synchronicity of following Emma Goldman with another important woman whose name starts with "Emm-". Pursuant to my discussion with WillowW, I plan someday in the future to FA-ize the article about Emmeline B. Wells, to complete the Emm* name hat trick. (But first I'm going to take it easy and chillax with another Balzac article.)
Thanks again. I'll make the corrections you noted soon. – Scartol • Tok 15:45, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
Ah the perils of synchronicity. That's what got me into my badly failed Featured Topic candidacy. I've always wanted to find some obscure (at least to me) subject like you've done here and whip it into shape. As for the next project... I probably would go with a different Emm* though in the long term, I'm not sure appearance over substance is a viable life strategy. --JayHenry (talk) 01:29, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
And then there is my abnormal desire to make them each a different Emm- name. As for Featured Topic, I'm sorry to hear that yours was unsuccessful. It will be many years before I have enough articles about La Comédie humaine to make it a FT. (As you know, there are about 100 books in the series.) Three down, ninety-seven to go! – Scartol • Tok 04:14, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Of course, you'd really have to do Emmental (cheese) to complete the double hat trick. --JayHenry (talk) 04:44, 8 May 2008 (UTC)