Last week Donna Strickland, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, won the Nobel Prize in Physics. She is the third woman to be awarded the prize in its history—Marie Curie received it in 1903 and Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963—but as recently as last May, Wikipedia rejected a draft page about Strickland on the grounds that she did not meet “notability guidelines.” The work for which she received the Nobel—generating the “shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind,” according to the prize committee—is over 30 years old. She published the groundbreaking paper, with co-authors and now co–Nobel winners Gerard Mourou and Arthur Ashkin, in 1985. Between then and now she has won many prizes, but it took a Nobel for her to become Wikipedia-worthy.
On the same day that Strickland became a Nobel laureate and Wikipedia’s editors quickly threw together a page about her, President Donald Trump used a rally in Mississippi to ridicule Christine Blasey Ford, the psychologist who testified of her assault at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh, who has since been sworn in as a Supreme Court justice. Trump’s words were cruel. He elicited laughter at Ford’s expense, making her trauma—and that of all sexual assault survivors—into the stuff of jokes. The president’s ridicule turned on the idea of Ford’s ignorance: “How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know,” said Trump. “I don’t know, I don’t know. What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know.”