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.

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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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