Lise Meitner “A physicist who never lost her humanity” Desiree Collins
LISE MEITNER Was born in Vienna, Austria November 7, 1878. First person to realize that the nucleus of an atom could be split into smaller parts. Element 109, Heaviest known element in the universe bears her name Meitnerium.
Background Info • Her father was a lawyer and her mother was a musician. • Was born into a family of 10. • The family was of Jewish middle class descent, but she was surrounded more by liberal, intellectual, professional friends of the family than by religion and the synagogue. • She was baptized and converted to Protestantism in 1908, at the age of 30. • First woman to earn a doctoral degree in physics at the university of Vienna.
Education • Girls in Vienna were educated until the age of 14, but due to Lise’s family environment, all Meitner children received an advanced education. • She entered the University of Vienna in October 1901. • Lise crammed 8 years of courses into two years, and passed the Matura in July 1901, at the age of 23, one of four girls out of fourteen. • After thirty years, she obtained a position as an X-Ray technician with Otto Hahn, who needed an assistant to help study Radioactivity.
Contributions • Her greatest achievement: the discovery of Nuclear Fission with Hahn. • In the end, her discoveries helped bring an end to WWII. • Described radioactive decay • Together, Meitner and Hahn discovered the 91st element, Protactinium. • Next she became the first woman professor at the University of Berlin, but because she was from a Jewish family, she fled to Sweden.
The most significant woman scientist of the 20th century • The discovery of neutrons, and speculation about the possibility of synthesizing heavier elements than uranium triggered the Nuclear Race involving some of the great scientists at the time like Ernest Rutherford, Otto Hahn etc.
Facts • She lost her Nobel prize to Han(for chemistry) in 1944 for the discovery of Nuclear Fission. Most of the experiments in her collaborative work with Hanh took place in Hahn’s lab in Germany due to her exiled status. • Hahn published his lab findings in January 1939, but couldn’t explain the physics of it which was done so by Meitner in February of the same year.
Facts Continue. • Discovery of nuclear power had an electrifying effect on the scientific community, and its capacity as a weapon especially in the hands of the Nazi Regime wasn’t that good of an idea. • Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner persuaded Einstein(who was popular) to write a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt which was basically a catalyst for the Manhattan project. • A Nuclear Weapon is basically a fission reactor designed to release as much energy as possible and as rapidly as possible before released energy destroys the reactor, therefore stopping the chain reaction.
Honors Received • Although Meitner and Hahn contributed equally to the discovery of fission, Hahn received more recognition (Nobel Prize) because of his gender. • Only a year later Meitner became a member of the Swedish Academy of Science. • Meitner and Hahn shared the Fermi award from the Atomic Energy Commission of The United States. • After her death in 1968, the 109th element was named Meitnerium in honor of her.
Notable Quotes: • “I would rather walk the length of Broadway in the nude than see myself in a movie.” • “I myself have not in any way worked on the smashing of the atom with the idea of producing death-dealing weapons. You must not blame us scientists for the use to which war technicians have put our discoveries.”
Early Significant Events: • 1909 - Allowed to work in the laboratories of the University of Berlin • •1910 - The Meitner-Hahn labs were expanded into three rooms • •1912 - Appointed assistant to Max Planck in the • Institute of Theoretical Physics, first paid position at the University of Berlin for a woman • •1912-1913 - Published 10 papers with Otto Hahn • •1912 - The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry was opened with Otto Hahn in charge of the radioactivity department. Lise Meitner appointed an unpaid “guest” position as a physicist in his lab. • •1915 - Served as an x-ray technician/nurse in WWI, while Hahn also served in the German army
Work Cited • http://www.dhm.de/lemo/html/biografien/MeitnerLise/ • http://www.orcbs.msu.edu/radiation/radhistory/lisemeitner.html • http://www.zephyrus.co.uk/lisemeitner.html • http://www.ee.vt.edu/~museum/women/meitner/meitner.html • http://mnmn.essortment.com/lisemeitner_rqob.htm • http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/meitner.html • http://www.physics.ucla.edu/~cwp/Phase2/Meitner,_Lise@844904033.html