Google Doodle Salutes First Scientist To Discover Greenhouse Effect

Today, Google celebrates the 204th birthday of American scientist and women’s rights activist Eunice Newton Foote with a special slideshow Doodle. Foote was the first person to discover the greenhouse effect and its role in the warming of Earth’s climate.

What Happened: Born on this day in 1819 in Connecticut, Foote attended the Troy Female Seminary, a school that encouraged students to attend science lectures and participate in chemistry labs. She developed a lifelong passion for science and also dedicated time to campaigning for women’s rights.

In 1848, Foote 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, according to the Google blog post.

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Despite women being widely shunned from the scientific community at the time, Foote conducted experiments on her own. After placing mercury thermometers in glass cylinders, she discovered that the cylinder containing carbon dioxide experienced the most significant heating effect in the sun. Foote was ultimately the first scientist to make the connection between rising carbon dioxide levels and the warming of the atmosphere.

After Foote published her findings, she produced her second study on atmospheric static electricity in the journal Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. These were the first two physics studies published by a woman in the US.

Around 1856, a male scientist presented her work at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Those discussions led to further experiments which uncovered what is known as the Greenhouse effect—when gasses like carbon dioxide trap heat from the sun, the temperature of Earth's atmosphere gradually rises.

Today, scientists all over the world are advancing climate science thanks to the foundation that Foote laid. Happy Birthday, Eunice Newton Foote!

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