Hertha Marks Ayrton Biography Engineer

Hertha Marks Ayrton Biography English EngineerPhoebe Sarah Hertha Ayrton (28 April 1854 – 23 August 1923) was an English engineer, mathematician, physicist, and inventor. She was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society for her work on electric arcs and ripples in sand and water. Hertha Ayrton was born Phoebe Sarah Marks at 6 Queen Street, Portsea, Hampshire, England on 28 April 1854. She was the daughter of a seamstress. At the age of nine, 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 was known to her peers and teachers as a fiery, occasionally crude personality. Through her cousins she was introduced to science and mathematics and by the time she was sixteen she was working as a governess.

Hertha Marks Ayrton Biography English EngineerShe attended Girton College, Cambridge where she studied mathematics and was coached by Richard Glazebrook. She was supported in her application by George Eliot who was working on Daniel Deronda. One of the characters, Mirah, was said to be based on Ayrton, but this is not accepted as fact. During her time at Cambridge, Ayrton constructed a sphygmomanometer, led the choral society, founded the Girton fire brigade, and with Charlotte Scott, Girton's first wrangler, formed a mathematical club. In 1880, Ayrton passed the Mathematical Tripos but was not granted a degree because, at this time, Cambridge gave only certificates and not degrees to women. She successfully completed an external examination and received a B.Sc. degree from the University of London in 1881.

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