Eunice Newton Foote: The forgotten scientist who discovered the greenhouse effect in 1856

Today we are all too familiar with the concept of greenhouse gasses and global warming, but almost 170 years ago, an American woman gave us a distant early warning that went unnoticed. Eunice Newton Foote was a women's rights activist and amateur scientist, overlooked for centuries. The New York Times rectified that oversight in a recent obituary. 

In 1856 she devised a clever experiment to test the heating properties of different gasses. She filled one glass cylinder with carbon dioxide, the other with moist air, exposed both to sunlight, and recorded the temperatures.

The carbon dioxide was significantly warmer, leading her to reach this now chilling conclusion: "An atmosphere of that gas would give to our earth a high temperature."

Her results were presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, generally ignored, and then overshadowed by Irish scientist John Tyndall, who conducted a similar experiment three years later.

Tyndall now has a crater of the moon named after him, but Eunice is no more than a Footenote.

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