Who was Eunice Newton Foote? Google Doodle celebrates the scientist and women’s rights activist

Eunice Newton Foote (Google Doodle)
Eunice Newton Foote (Google Doodle)

Google has today paid tribute to the work undertaken by American scientist Eunice Newton Foote, an advocate for women’s rights who spoke up about looking after the planet back in the mid-19th century.

Google Doodle has marked the day — which is the anniversary of her birth 204 years ago —with the animated picture of a brown-haired woman scribbling in a notepad inside a laboratory.

Google says beneath the image: “Today’s slideshow Doodle celebrates the 204th birthday of American scientist and women’s rights activist Eunice Newton Foote. Foote was the first person to discover the greenhouse effect and its role in the warming of Earth’s climate.

“Today, scientists all over the world are advancing climate science thanks to the foundation that Newton Foote laid.

“Happy Birthday, Eunice Newton Foote.”

But what do you know about the scientist and activist?

Who was was Eunice Newton Foote?

Eunice Newton Foote was born on July 17, 1819, in Connecticut, United States, and attended the Troy Female Seminary, where science was a large part of the curriculum.

Science became a love of hers and, in 1848, she attended the first Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls and was the fifth signatory of the Declaration of Sentiments — a document that demanded equality for women in social and legal status.

Why did Eunice Newton Foote become involved in women’s rights?

Newton Foote became heavily involved in campaigning for women’s rights, mainly because of the barriers that she faced.

At the time, women were largely excluded from the scientific community. But this did not stop Newton Foote, who conducted her own experiments.

But it was not only in science that Newton Foote believed women should have equal standing, but in life as well.

She joined forces with prominent activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony, and together they campaigned for women’s suffrage and equal rights.

How did Eunice Newton Foote discover climate change?

It was ultimately through her love of science that she made the discovery of the effects of climate change on the world, and it was how she made a name for herself that would be celebrated nearly 200 years later.

During an experiment, Newton Foote discovered that a cylinder she was using which contained carbon dioxide had the most significant heating effect in the sun. She became the first scientist ever to make the connection between rising carbon dioxide levels and the warming of the atmosphere.

She published her findings, and was the first woman in the US to have a paper published.

“An atmosphere of that gas would give to our Earth a high temperature; and if, as some suppose, at one period of its history, the air had mixed with it a larger proportion than at present, an increased temperature from its own action, as well as from increased weight, must have necessarily resulted,” her paper noted.

She then went on to study ‘atmospheric static electricity’ and was again published in the esteemed journal, the Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Because there was still a stigma attached to female scientists, a male scientist presented her work at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1856, saying, “Science was of no country and of no sex. The sphere of woman embraces not only the beautiful and the useful, but the true.”

Those discussions led to further experiments which uncovered what is now known as the Greenhouse effect — when gases like carbon dioxide trap heat from the sun, the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere gradually rises.