Home Environment Eunice Newton Foote: The woman who discovered the greenhouse effect

Eunice Newton Foote: The woman who discovered the greenhouse effect

by admin
Eunice Newton Foote: The woman who discovered the greenhouse effect

Eunice Newton Foote showed how gases warmed when exposed to sunlight in the 19th century

Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

Eunice Newton Foote, who discovered the greenhouse effect and was a pivotal figure in women’s rights movements, is the focus of today’s Google doodle.

The discovery of the greenhouse effect is often attributed to physicist John Tyndall, who carried out a series of experiments in 1859 looking at how heat affected air. However, in 2011, amateur historian Raymond Sorenson discovered a record of a presentation of Foote’s work at the 10th annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1856, two years before Tyndall’s experiments started.

The report, which is also the first record of a physics article by a female scientist, described Foote’s experiments looking at how tubes of different gases, such as oxygen, air, hydrogen and carbon dioxide, warmed when exposed to sunlight. She concluded that “The highest effect of the sun’s rays I have found to be in carbonic acid gas”, which is primarily carbon dioxide.

She went on to speculate that “an atmosphere of that gas would give to our earth a high temperature”.

The importance of Foote’s findings apparently wasn’t recognised by the scientists present, perhaps because her work was actually presented by the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Henry, who later wrote: “Although the experiments were interesting and valuable, there were [many difficulties] encompassing [any] attempt to interpret their significance.”

Foote was born in 1819 to Theriza Newton and Isaac Newton Jr, the latter of whom was a distant relative of the famous scientist. Foote was a prominent activist in the US women’s rights movement advocating for, among other things, the universal right to vote. She was one of the original signatories of a manifesto called the Declaration of Sentiments. This was written at the first women-organised women’s rights convention, which took place in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.

Though Foote wasn’t hugely active in scientific research for much longer after her 1856 experiments, she did perform experiments a couple of years later looking at which gases could produce static electricity. She also filed a number of patents, such as a thermostatically controlled cooking stove, before she died in 1888.


Source Link

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Pierre Rayer News
Universal scientific discoveries