Maria Mayer

Image credit:

Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1906-1972) was a German physicist who was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics, shared with J. Hans D. Jensen, due to their proposal of the shell nuclear model. They both shared this award with Eugene P. Wigner for her unrelated work.

Maria and J. Hans D.’s work was based on the theory that the nucleus consists of several shells or orbital levels and that the distribution of protons and neutrons among these shells produces the characteristic degree of stability of each species of nucleus. They both collaborated on the Elementary Theory of Nuclear Shell Structure in 1955. 

Maria studied physics at the University of Göttingen and she also did a PhD on this subject. She married an American chemical physicist called Joseph E. Mayer and she got American citizenship afterwards, in 1933. It was several years later, from 1948 to 1949 when she published papers on the atomic nucleus and she developed her theory on the several shells. It was later that she collaborated with J. Hans D. Jensen, to write their famous project Elementary Theory of Nuclear Shell Structure (1955).