The Universe According to Emmy Noether

In the early 20th century, a young mathematician developed a theorem. Eventually it would become a bedrock of modern physics and used to discover new particles and better understand black holes.

In 1915, two of the world’s top mathematicians, David Hilbert and Felix Klein, invited Emmy Noether to the University of Göttingen to investigate a puzzle. A problem had cropped up in Albert Einstein’s new theory of gravity, general relativity, which had been unveiled earlier in the year. It seemed that the theory did not adhere to a well-established physical principle known as conservation of energy, which states that energy can change forms but can never be destroyed. Total energy is supposed to remain constant. Noether, a young mathematician with no formal academic appointment, gladly accepted the challenge.

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