Who Was Anna Mani? Google Doodle Pays Tribute To Indian Physicist Who Defied Gender Norms

Google never fails to bring forgotten legends back into the limelight through a creative doodle. From celebrating birthdays to marking important days from history books, Google Doodle does it all. On 23rd August 2022, Google dedicated a creative doodle to celebrate the 104th birthday of Indian Physicist and meteorologist Anna Mani.

Google dedicated the doodle to celebrate the great Indian physicist’s birthday and her life’s work and research that made it possible for India to make accurate weather forecasts, and laid the groundwork for the country to harness renewable energy.

Born on August 23rd in 1918, Anna Mani was one of India’s first female scientists. Mani was born to a Syrian Christian family in Peermade, Travancore (now Kerala), India. Her father was a civil engineer by profession. Anna was the seventh of eight children in her family, and a voracious reader. She had a huge interest in reading and thus spent her formative years immersed in books. By the very age of 12, Mani had read almost every book at her public library.

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After high school, Anna Mani did her Intermediate Science course at Women’s Christian College (WCC) and went on to complete a degree in Bachelor of Science with honours in physics and chemistry from Presidency College, Madras. After graduating, Mani won a scholarship  for postgraduate studies at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Here, under the guidance of Nobel Laureate Sir C.V. Raman, she studied spectroscopy, specializing in diamonds and rubies.

Between 1942 and 1945, she published five papers and  completed her Ph.D. In 1945, she went to Imperial College, London to pursue graduate studies in physics but ended up specialising in meteorological instruments.

Mani began working for the Indian Meteorological Department upon her return to India in 1948, where she helped the country in designing and manufacturing its own weather instruments.

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She excelled so much in this male-dominated field that by 1953, she became head of the division of 121 men. Under her leadership, more than 100 weather instrument designs were simplified and standardized for production in India. Mani was also an early and prominent advocate of alternative energy sources.

Mani later became Deputy Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department and held several key positions in the United Nations World Meteorological Organization. She also served as a WMO consultant in Egypt in 1975. In 1987, she was awarded with the INSA K. R. Ramanathan Medal for her remarkable contributions to science. 

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After leaving a remarkable legacy in a male-dominate society and field, Anna Mani, Mani died on 16 August 2001 in Thiruvananthapuram, a week before her 83rd birthday.

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