Lise MEITNER (November 1878 AT – October 1968 UK) is renowned for her work on radioactivity and nuclear fission, as well as the discovery of protactinium.
She received 48 nominations and 21 scientific awards for her work, including:
-1925: Lieben price for the study of beta and gamma rays;
-1947: Award of honor of the city of Vienna for science;
-1949: Max-Planck Medal of the German Physics Society, with Otto Hahn;
-1955: Otto Hahn Prize for Chemistry and Physics;
-1957: elected honorary doctor at the Free University of Berlin, May 11, 1957;
-1966: Enrico Fermi Award, with Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann.
While studying in Vienna, she attended all courses taught by Ludwig Boltzmann and she studied articles published by Lord Rayleigh.
During her career in Germany, she oversaw the construction of a particle accelerator in the physics department, which she ran until 1938 in Germany.
As a jewish woman in the Hitler years, Lise MEITNER is first and foremost the symbol of unjustly ignored scientists, even though she was considered, secretly in her time, and publicly then until today as a pioneer in the discoveries of nuclear fission.
In 1938, Lise MEITNER was forced to flee from Germany, but continued her collaboration with her team, including Otto HAHN, by correspondence. For example, MEITNER and HAHN met illegally in Copenhagen in November 1938, and planned new experiments.
Otto HAHN conducted these experiments with Fritz Strassmann, and they showed that there is barium among the elements produced as a result of the bombardment of uranium with neutrons. Unfortunately, given the political situation, Lise MEITNER could not appear as co-author of the subsequent publication in Naturwissenschaften in december 1938, despite her major role in the conduct of this research.
The Nobel Prize for Chemistry was the awarded to Otto HAHN, much to the surprise of the scientific community, including Dirk Coster, a Dutch physicist who discovered Hafnium (Hf) (element 72) in 1923.
Lise MEITNER is said to have been the victim of what is known as the « Matilda effect », namely the attribution of women’s scientific discoveries to their male counterparts.
Subsequently, Lise MEITNER received many honors, and was more recognized in the United States. She was a member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and an honorary doctor of several universities.