Friday 7 November 2014

Born this day ... Lise Meitner

"I will have nothing to do with a bomb!"

"Surely Hahn fully deserved the Nobel Prize for chemistry. There is really no doubt about it. But I believe that Otto Robert Frisch and I contributed something not insignificant to the clarification of the process of uranium fission - how it originates and that it produces so much energy and that was something very remote to Hahn."

Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was born on 7th of November 1878 in Vienna. The physicist was the "Mother of the Atomic Bomb" and a pacifist, a female scientist at a time women were not yet permitted at Prussian universities, and an Austrian of Jewish descent living in the 1930s (via). First she suffered because she was a woman, then she suffered because she was Jewish (via) and fled to Sweden.
In 1905/06, Meitner became the second woman to earn a doctoral degree at the University of Vienna. She went to Berlin to study with Max Planck (via) who - until then - had rejected any women wanting to attend his lectures, later became his assistant and then the first woman in Germany to assume the post of full professor in physics (via). In Berlin, she met Otto Hahn who became her research partner for the following 30 years (via). At that time, working in Berlin as a female scientist meant entering the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut (now Max Planck Institut) through the backdoor (via) and making experiments in the cellar since women had no access to "real" laboratories (via).
Otto Hahn (1879-1968) received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 1944, Meitner - part of the team that discovered the nuclear fission - was overlooked. And not just once. From 1939 to 1945 she was nominated nine times, each time a male candidate received the prize (via). Meitner is probably "one of the most glaring examples of women's scientific achievement overlooked by the Nobel committee." (via).

images via and via


  1. Happy birthday, Lise!

  2. Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. Abbie Winterburn7 November 2014 at 09:16


  4. Many(!) thanks for your kind and highly appreciated feedback, Karen, Derek, Erin, Kenneth, Abbie, and Frans. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.