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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion In The News Inclusion Matters Inspiration

Honoring a First Lady

Chien-Shiung Wu – USPS

Imagine that you devise an experiment that has results so revolutionary that the most respected scientists in your field exclaim, “That’s total nonsense!” Repeating the experiment shows that you are correct and what you have shown is so incredible that the experiment is named after you – the Wu Experiment. Two scientists, seeking to disprove a widely accepted law of physics, Parity Law, had a theory that would disprove that law. They came to you for assistance with experiments and what you came up with was referred to as the “solution to the number-one riddle of atomic and nuclear physics”. Everyone knows that what you did was revolutionary because the two scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics. The surprise, to many, is that, apart from a single mention, almost in passing, in the ceremony’s speech, you get nothing. The consensus is that you were ignored and left out because you are a woman. It is such a big deal to those who were outraged by the perceived snub that, 21 years later, you receive the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics, a prestigious prize that states that it is awarded to “scientists for their achievements for the benefit of mankind and brotherly relations among peoples, regardless of nationality, race, color, religion, sex or political views.”

Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu, The First Lady of Physics, was born in China and had, what sounds like pretty awesome parents. At a time where this was not a widely held view, her parents believed so strongly that girls should get an education, that her father founded a school for them. With this kind of support, it is hardly surprising that Chien-Shiung Wu went on to graduate, at the top of her class, with a degree in physics. Her mentor, a female professor named Jing-Wei Gu, encouraged her to continue her education and, in 1936, Madame Wu (as she was often called) emigrated to America, where she would become a citizen in 1952. In 1940 she earned a PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. Even though she had a doctorate and Nobel-prize winning mentors, Chien-Shiung Wu found that racism and sexism were much stronger than her qualifications. With World War II, anti-Asian sentiments were stronger than ever and ultimately, Chien-Shiung Wu moved, with her husband, to the east coast where she first taught at Smith College and then moved on to Princeton University, becoming the first woman hired as a faculty member by Princeton’s physics department. She left Princeton in 1944, to work on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University. Dr. Wu stayed at Columbia University until she retired and it was while she was there that her groundbreaking Wu Experiment helped Drs. Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang win the Nobel Prize.

Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu was no stranger to being a pioneer becoming, among other things, the first female president of the American Physical Society and the first living scientist to have an asteroid named after her: Asteroid 2752 Wu Chien-Shiung. As she blazed her trails and opened doors, Dr. Wu made sure that the door was held open and she worked hard to encourage other women. After she retired, she continued to work tirelessly in education programs aimed at increasing the number of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (most popularly referred to as STEM). I am guessing that her passion was to build a future where women were not held back, were not overlooked, and were always recognized.

On February 11, 2021, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the United States Postal Service released a commemorative stamp in honor of Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu and her amazing achievements and contributions not only to science but also to championing women and girls in science. This is a fitting tribute to a woman who, in advocating for women to pursue careers in science voiced a sentiment I can get fully behind, “There is only one thing worse than coming home from the lab to a sink full of dirty dishes, and that is not going to the lab at all!

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D.O.J. Enforcement Where We Are

It’s In The Mail

ImageIn one of my previous lives, I worked for a company that, among its various business ventures, owned a mailboxes service. I would pop in occasionally to see how this and other nearby businesses were doing and, on one such visit, I found myself in the middle of an adventure. In the morning, shortly after the store opened, a man walked in and flashed his very impressive-looking badge. He explained that a woman was going to come in later in the day to pick up a package and that he needed to be present when this happened. Unsure what was going on, yet thoroughly impressed by the badge, the store’s staff agreed to let the man set himself up behind the counter, in wait for the woman. In no time, the man had settled himself in a chair, opened up a newspaper and blended into the scenery. A short while later, the store’s phone rang and one of the store’s employees answered a call for the woman they were waiting for. She asked if her package had arrived. Upon hearing that it had, she requested that someone bring it out to her car, as she was waiting outside the store. The employee explained that it was the store’s policy that all customers come in to pick up and sign for their own packages. After a short back and forth, he hung up the phone and a few minutes later a small woman in massive sunglasses walked in. The agent paid her no notice and appeared, instead, to be engrossed in a phone conversation with a friend. The woman signed for her package and turned to leave with it. As she did so, the agent whispered urgently into his phone and, suddenly, the mailboxes store turned into a scene straight out of the movies. Men in dark glasses, holding guns, burst in through the door, our agent behind the counter surged forward and, in no time, the woman was under arrest and her box was in their custody. Before he left, the agent explained that this woman was one of a group of people shipping some drug along the lines of PCP. Suffice to say, we were all pretty speechless and the most amazing thing of all? These guys worked for the US Postal Service. Yes, those folks who will let “Neither snow nor rain nor heat…” keep them from delivering your mail will not let crime hang out in their system either.

The United States Postal Inspection Service, founded by Benjamin Franklin, is the primary law enforcement arm of the US Postal Service and one of the oldest federal law enforcement agencies in the United States. Their goal is to protect against those who  “attack our nation’s postal system and misuse it to defraud, endanger, or otherwise threaten the American public.” You would be amazed how many criminals use the postal service as a conduit for perpetuating their crimes (using services such as UPS and FedEx for crimes that cross state lines is also covered by these laws). When Charles Ponzi was arrested for taking people’s money in a giant fraud that came to be known by his last name, the Ponzi Scheme, he was arrested by the US Postal Inspection Service because he had used the mail system to write to his investors, encouraging them to reinvest their funds.  He was charged with and went to jail for mail fraud.

If a person sends you mail in order to ensnare you in some kind of scam, to make an illegal delivery or to otherwise commit a crime, that is mail fraud. Conversely, if someone has scammed you and you end up sending that person money or some other item of value, that too is also considered mail fraud and that person can be prosecuted for it. Since a lot of mail fraud involves financial schemes, the work of financial forensics experts is quite important in the crime fighting work of the US Postal Inspection Service. If, for example, a person were running a pyramid scheme that involves people mailing in funds to invest in the scheme, a forensic accountant would be needed to track and follow the money trail and build a case against the criminal carrying out the scheme. Also, say you received a solicitation to send money to a fake charity and you sent payment in the mail. A forensic CPA’s skills would go a long way in exposing and putting a stop to the bad deeds of the fake charity.

The US Postal Service provides a very important service. It is well known that stealing mail is a federal crime but few realize just how far the US Postal Service and its law enforcement agents go to maintain the integrity of the postal service. Much trust is placed in those blue boxes and this is because of the work of these agents.