Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Atomic women

To appreciate women’s contribution to science, Michelle Francl suggests it’s time to stop talking about the most famous one.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: A photograph taken at the 4th Annual Washington Conference on Theoretical Physics in 1938 at George Washington University.

George Washington University14

Fig. 2: A 1921 photograph taken at a party for James Franck (seated on the sofa in the centre) on the occasion of his moving from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin to the University of Göttingen.

American Institute of Physics Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Aristid V. Grosse Collection

Fig. 3

Photograph by Paul Ehrenfest Jr courtesy of the American Institute of Physics Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Weisskopf Collection


  1. Bethe, H. in 4th Washington Conf. Theor. Phys. Stellar Energy Nucl. Process. (1938);


  3. Burek, C. & Higgs, B. Public Perception of Female Scientists (University of Chichester, University of Cork, 2014);


  5. Oral Histories: James Franck and Hertha Sponer Franck - Session IV (Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, 1962);

  6. Oral Histories: Hilde Levi (Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, 1971);

  7. Hevesy, G. & Levi, H. Nature 135, 580 (1935).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Levi, H. George de Hevesy: Life and Work: A Biography (Rhondos, 1985).

  9. Schweber, S. S. Nuclear Forces: The Making of the Physicist Hans Bethe 271 (Harvard University Press, 2012).

  10. Rieke, G. H. Bull. Am. Astron. Soc. 32, 1685–1686 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Mulliken, R. S., Rieke, C. A., Orloff, D. & Orloff, H. J. Chem. Phys. 17, 1248–1267 (1949).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Mulliken, R. S. in Nobel Lectures: Chemistry: 1963–1970 131–160 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1972).

  13. Francl, M. Nat. Chem. 3, 670–673 (2011).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Photograph from 4th Ann. Washington Conf. Theor. Phys. University Historical Materials Records: RG0031, series 001, box 2, folder 52 (Special Collections Research Center, George Washington University Libraries, Washington DC, 1938).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michelle Francl.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Francl, M. Atomic women. Nature Chem 10, 373–375 (2018).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing