Google Doodle Celebrates 98th Birthday of Pioneering Geochemist Katsuko Saruhashi

google doodle Katsuko Saruhashi
Courtesy of Google

Google doodle of Katsuko Saruhashi on March 22, 2018.

By measuring carbon dioxide in seawater, Saruhashi showed the dangers of radioactive fallout for the first time.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 98th birthday of pioneering Japanese geochemist Katsuko Saruhashi, who was born on this day (March 22) in 1920. She is credited as the first to not only measure CO2 levels in our oceans, but demonstrate their connection to radioactive fallout and the far-reaching consequences of nuclear pollution.

She was the first woman to earn her doctorate in chemistry in 1957 from the University of Tokyo. And after the US conducted nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in 1954, the Japanese government asked its geochemical sector to identify, analyze and monitor radioactivity in rainfall and seawater.

Saruhashi’s findings were startling -- far from being contained in the area of the nuclear tests, the effects had reached Japan downwind after a year and a half, making the occupants of a Japanese fishing trawler ill. By 1969, the radioactive effects had spread all the way to the Pacific. To aid in the fight against future disasters like this, she created a table bearing her name that measures chlorinity, pH level and temperature in water -- and this table is used by oceanographers to this day.

We remember Saruhashi, who died in 2007, for her brilliance and courage in showing that environmental damage can have grave consequences far beyond what’s in front of our eyes and ears. You can read more about her life and achievements here.


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