Ayrton was chosen as one of the ten most influential British women in the history of science!
Early years and training
Hertha Ayrton Phoebe was born Sarah Marks in Portsea, Hampshire, England on April 28, 1854.
When she was nine years old, Sarah was invited by her aunts, who ran a school in North West London, to live with her cousins and be educated with them. She through her cousins was introduced to science and mathematics. She attended Girton College, Cambridge, where she studied mathematics and was educated by Richard Glazebrook.
During his time at Cambridge, Ayrton built a sphygmomanometer, which he ran for Girton's fire brigade, and with Charlotte Scott he formed a maths club.
In 1880, Ayrton passed the final exam in Mathematics, but she was not awarded a degree, because at this time Cambridge did not give certificates and degrees to women.
Later, in 1881, she successfully completed an external examination and received a bachelor's degree from the University of London.
Ayrton was chosen as one of the ten most influential British women in the history of science.
Mathematics and electrical engineering projects
Upon his return to London, Ayrton earned money through teaching and embroidery. She participated in a club for working women. At the same time he took care of his invalid sister. Ayrton also put his math skills to practical use. She taught at Notting Hill and Ealing High School and also worked on formulating and solving mathematical problems, many of which were published in textbooks of her day.
In 1884 Ayrton patented a Divider Line, an engineering drawing tool for dividing a line into any number of equal parts and for enlarging and reducing figures. The dividing line was his first great invention. Its use was very useful for artists and also for architects and engineers.
Ayrton's patent application was financially supported by Lady Goldsmid and feminist Barbara Bodichon.
The invention was shown at the "Women's Industries Exhibition" and received much press attention. From 1884 until her death, Hertha has registered 26 patents including five on math dividers and thirteen on arc lamps and electrodes.
Ayrton also began his own research on the characteristics of the electric arc .
At the end of the 19th century, electric lighting was in widespread use for street lighting. The tendency of electrical arcing with flickering was a major problem. In 1895, Hertha Ayrton wrote a series of articles for the electrical industry, developing the idea that these phenomena are the result of oxygen coming into contact with the carbon rods used to create the arc.
The scientific success of a woman at that time
Her success there led the British Association for the Advancement of Science to allow women to serve on general and sectional committees.
In 1902, Ayrton published a summary on the electric arc. His research work and on the subject of electric arc, with origins in his earlier articles, published between 1895 and 1896. With this publication, his contribution to the field of electrical engineering began to establish. However, at least initially, Ayrton was not well received by the more prestigious and traditional scientific societies, such as the Royal Society. Following the publication of the electric arc. In 1902 Ayrton was proposed as a member of the Royal Society by the renowned electrical engineer John Perry. Her application was rejected by the Council of the Royal Society, who decreed that married women were not eligible to be fellows. However, in 1904, became the first woman to read a paper submitted to the Royal Society when she was allowed to read their paper “The Origin and Growth of Ripple Marks”. It was later published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. In 1906, she was awarded the Royal Society's prestigious Hughes Medal "for her experimental investigations of the electric arc." She was the fifth recipient of this award.
Personal life and commemoration
Two years after his death in 1923, Ayrton's lifelong friend, Ottilie Hancock, endowed the Hertha Ayrton Research Fellowship at Girton University. This scholarship continues today.
In 2009 , the Hertha Ayrton Scholarship was inaugurated on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Panasonic Trust.
In 2010 , Ayrton was chosen as one of the ten most influential British women in the history of science, as selected from the Royal Society and historians of science.
In 2015 , the British Society for the History of Science has created an award for web projects and digital engagement. In an online vote, members chose to name it The Ayrton Prize, in recognition of Hertha Ayrton's contributions to British science.
Hertha Ayrton (Portsea, Hampshire, England, April 28, 1854 – Bexhill-on-sea, Sussex, England, August 23, 1923)