July 6, 2022

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Vera Rubin, the discoverer of dark matter, dies without obtaining her deserved Nobel Prize

Vera Robin is another big name that science seems to have set aside. This astronomer, responsible for discovering dark matter and forging many of the foundations of current astronomy, has been considered for decades as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Physics, but they have never given it to her. Last year the Sigma Xi association predicted his appointment. He has finally died, never receiving the deserved award and joining the extensive club of scientists who suffer the “Matilda effect”.

Not too many women have won the Nobel Prize in the Physics category throughout history. Specifically, only two since 1901: Marie Curie and Maria Goeppert Mayer. This is largely due to the so-called “Matilda Effect”, a concept according to which women scientists receive less recognition for their work than their male counterparts. It seems that Vera Rubin did not escape this phenomenon either.

Rubin’s story was not simple. As a child, she showed great interest in the study of stars and outer space. However, Princeton University rejected her as a woman. He managed to graduate from Cornell with a job specialized in the study of galaxies, which the scientific community of the time did not like too much.

His ideas contradicted the Big Bang theory, and although he earned a doctorate from Georgetown University, his work was rejected by major industry magazines such as the Astronomical Journal or Astrophysical Journal. All a low blow for them, who lost the opportunity to be pioneers with Rubin’s ideas, confirmed 15 years later.

In 1965 Vera abandoned her controversial line of studies and decided to focus on the rotation curves to stop confronting the scientific community. It was the first to measure the speed of the stars and discover the existence of dark matter. While it is true that the term was not studied until 1974 or coined until 1993, it was Vera Rubin who provided the most solid and real proof of its existence. Now, at 88, he has died in Pennsylvania without ever obtaining the Nobel Prize he deserved.

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