Marietta Blau’s innovations in photographic emulsion allowed scientists to track particles that they had previously only guessed existed. Blau graduated the University of Vienna in 1919 and worked briefly as an assistant at the University of Frankfurt am Main’s Institute for Medical Physics before joining the Institut für Radiumforschung in 1923, where she developed an emulsion technique for recording the tracks of particles that allowed her to detect neutrons and observe nuclear disintegration caused by cosmic rays. Forced to emigrate in 1938, Blau found work in Mexico with the help of Albert Einstein before joining the US Atomic Energy Commission in 1944. She later taught at the University of Miami. Throughout her career, she faced discrimination for her religion and gender and was denied paid work, let alone the positions at the big research facilities she needed for her work. Twice nominated for the Nobel Prize, Blau never won, and in 1950, Cecil Powel won the prize for work largely based on Blau’s, without crediting her or sharing the prize. Blau’s eyesight deteriorated in the 1960s because of exposure to radioactivity, and she died in the intensive care unit of a Vienna hospital where she had travelled for treatment.
More on Marietta Blau
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Marietta Blau." (Viewed on August 6, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/blau-marietta>.