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Maria Telkes

The star of this week’s “Without a Woman” segment is Mária Telkes, a hungarian scientist who emigrated to the U.S. to work as a biophysicist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in 1924, later working at MIT on their solar energy conversion project.

By the time she died she had amassed over 20 patents, most of her inventions using solar power, earning her the nickname “The Sun Queen”. She was a pioneer in the use of solar energy, and many of her inventions have led to advancements still used today.

During world war ii she invented the first solar distillation device, used to remove salt from seawater so soldiers had access to clean drinking water. The device was modified and scaled up for the Virgin Islands and is still in use today. She was a pioneer in the field of solar energy, creating the first solar oven and solar heating systems as well. 

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