You know how roughly 80% of all Internet Blog Posts™ these days are frustration-soaked rage-fueled diatribes complete with blatantly-inappropriate email snippets and brutal Twitter screenshots horrifically illustrating the murderous uphill battle most women have to face when attempting to be taken seriously for their work in the fields of science and technology?
Well give this shit a second to rattle around in your dome: Leona Woods was a hardcore nuclear physicist who found work in a military tech field in the 1930s, at a time when the women’s rights movement was something that made look like the fucking Lilith Fair, and as the most prominent woman working on the Manhattan Project she helped create the world’s first nuclear chain reaction, developed techniques that would completely change the understanding of particle physics, built at least three nuclear reactors (one of which was on a tennis court underneath an abandoned football stadium), and helped forge the Plutonium that was used in the world’s first atomic bomb detonation.
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They were going to accelerate their project, and God help the world if Hitler got The Bomb before we did. He brought in 50 of the best physicists he could find, including Leona Woods, swore them to absolute secrecy, and set them to work. Leona Woods wasn’t just the only woman on the project; at age 23 she was also the youngest member of the team. The reactor, which didn’t bother with stupid bullshit like radiation shielding, emergency shutdown procedures, or a cooling system to protect the crew from the six tons of pure uranium that were packed into the fucking proto-reactor like .45s in a Tommy gun’s barrel drum magazine, was constructed from the ground up by a hard-working team that was ultra-dedicated to their mission of, you know, saving the fucking world from Adolph Hitler.
One story tells about how Leona Woods was out in a hallway under the stadium with a goddamn blowtorch welding together a canister packed with beryllium and radium salt when she was approached by some d-bag numbnuts who was all like, “yo toots you’re not gonna be able to have kids if you keep exposing your junk to a football-sized package of radioactive isotopes.” In response, Woods flipped up the visor of her welding mask, looked the dude in the eyes, and told him it was more important to her to get this shit crafted correctly.
She had a long, successful career studying “climatology, diatomic molecular spectroscopy, fundamental particle physics, the general structure of the universe, quantum chemistry, and quasars,” which sounds impressive because aside from “the general structure of the universe” (which sounds like a fucking hell of a scientific endeavor) I don’t know what any of that other stuff actually even means. Leona Woods Marshall Libby wrote three books, over two hundred academic papers, built the Pile-3 Nuclear Reactor in Chicago using uranium and heavy water.Born in 1919 in a suburb of Chicago, Leona Woods was a child prodigy who graduated high school at 14 and received her B. Undeterred, Woods went to a guy named Robert Mullikan, who wasn’t a Nobel Laureate yet but would become one in a few years when he’d discover some way to compute the size and shape of a various molecules.Mullikan was impressed by Woods’ academic experience and aptitude in a bunch of experimental and theoretical fields that sound really impressive to a person like me who doesn’t know shit about advanced particle physics, and signed her on for a top-secret, ultra-black-ops military project he and many of his fellow scientists had been assigned to work on: The Manhattan Project.You will have the option to receive a Culture Pass by mail (delivery within 10 days) or be sent an email voucher that can be redeemed upon your first visit to any state museum or historic site.The Culture Pass allows one visit to each state museum and historic site.