Tim Sherratt, ‘A passion for physics: Joan Freeman’, Australasian Science, vol. 2, no. 2, Winter 1993, p. 64.
Funnily, much of what we call ‘big science’ is concerned with observing very small entities. Large, expensive machines are built to harness the unimaginable forces necessary to open the sub-atomic world to scrutiny.
In this fascinating, perhaps frightening, area of research, one Australian woman found an outlet for her curiosity, and made an important contribution to nuclear physics. Joan Freeman was born in Perth in 1918. When she was four, her family moved to Sydney where Joan was educated at the Sydney Church of England Girls’ Grammar School and the University of Sydney. Throughout her childhood she was interested in finding out how things worked, often roping in her friends to help her perform simple scientific experiments. However, it was the news, in 1932, that Cockroft and Walton had succeeded in ‘splitting the atom’ that particularly inspired her to consider a career in scientific research. Read MoreA passion for physics