Noethember: drawing a life

The year 2018 saw the first edition of Noethember, a month entirely dedicated to Emmy Noether, based on the idea of mathematician and illustrator Constanza Rojas-Molina.

Emmy Noether, as drawn by Constanza Rojas-Molina

Born in Erlangen on March 23, 1882, Emmy Noether made important contributions to abstract algebra, from ring theory to non-commutative algebra, as well as to theoretical physics. In 1915, upon Hilbert's and Klein's invitation, she moved to Göttingen, where, despite the opposition of various faculty members, she obtained her Habilitation in 1919. Of Jewish origin, she was forced to abandon Nazi Germany in 1933 and to emigrate to the United States, where she died in 1935.

This is how everything started…

“A few years ago I took part in #inktober, and it was a very nice experience.This year, due to the start of the semester and other commitments, I could not take part in it, so I promised to do something for the month of November, preferably with a mathematical background, I decided to dedicate the month to Emmy Noether, because the word play worked. “ Constanza tells me at the end of October, in an interview for the EWM (European Women in Mathematics) newsletter.

So I talked about my idea to Katie Steckles from The Aperiodical, who was very enthusiastic about it. We prepared a list of facts about Emmy Noether’s life, one for each day, and several people have joined us in this project since. The preparatory phase was a huge success in itself: I read various sources on Emmy Noether and learned many new things about her life and her research."

The idea was successful: professional illustrators, mathematicians, simple sympathisers, have participated in telling the story this great mathematician's life and achievements. Extremely interesting is the work of Lele Saa, specialised in illustrations for children, who decided to portray Emmy with the appearance of a fox.

The project had a great resonance on social media and beyond: a collection of all of Constanza’s drawings can be found on the CNRS' website Images de Mathematiques.

In our interconnected age with social medias offering us endless possibilities, Noethember was not only a great initiative of scientific divulgation, but also a fantastic opportunity to meet other mathematicians, science communicators and mathematics enthusiasts.

In the hope that the initiative will be repeated in some form, I can only second Robert Vandermolen's words and thank the initiators of #Noethember and all those who took part in this initiative, filling up their feeds with mathematics and drawings!