Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 204th birthday of American scientist and women’s rights activist Eunice Newton Foote.

Eunice Newton Foote was an American scientist and inventor who made significant contributions to the field of climate science during the mid-19th century. Despite her relatively lesser-known status, her work played a crucial role in understanding the relationship between carbon dioxide and the Earth’s climate.

Who was Eunice Newton?

Eunice Newton was born on July 17, 1819, in Goshen, Connecticut.

In 1856, Foote conducted a groundbreaking experiment that would shape the understanding of climate change. Her experiment involved placing various gases, including carbon dioxide, in glass cylinders and exposing them to sunlight. Foote observed that the cylinder containing carbon dioxide became significantly hotter than the others, leading her to conclude that carbon dioxide had the potential to influence Earth’s temperature.

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Foote’s work caught the attention of the scientific community, and she presented her findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1856. Her presentation, titled “Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun’s Rays,” was one of the first to suggest the link between greenhouse gases and global warming.

Despite the significance of her work, Eunice Newton Foote’s contributions were not widely recognized during her lifetime. Her paper was published in the Proceedings of the AAAS, but her name was omitted, as was common for women scientists at the time. It wasn’t until later that her work was rediscovered and credited.

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Foote’s pioneering research laid the foundation for subsequent studies on the role of greenhouse gases in climate change. Her findings were later built upon by scientists such as John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius, who expanded the understanding of the greenhouse effect.

Today, Eunice Newton Foote is recognized as an early pioneer in climate science and a trailblazer for women in the field. Her work serves as a reminder of the often overlooked contributions of women scientists throughout history.