M is for Lise Meitner – Physicist, #AtoZ Challenge
(1878-1968), lecturing at Catholic University, Washington, D.C–
Lise Meitner was born in Vienna on the 7th November 1878, and died in Cambridge, England, on 27th of October 1968.
Her parents were Jewish. Lise was a clever little girl who loved maths and science – by the time she was 8 she already kept a notebook of her scientific investigations under her pillow.
She had very supportive parents, and even though women at that time were not allowed to study in public institutions, they enabled her to study physics privately, taking external examinations, and to eventually become the second woman to obtain a PhD in physics at the University of Vienna.
She spent most of her scientific career as a physics professor and department head at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute – the first woman to become a full professor of physics in Germany. However, the second world war was about to start and she lost these positions because of the Nazi anti-Jewish laws, and had to flee to Sweden to live for many years, in the end taking Swedish citizenship.
She was highly regarded in the scientific community and she attended the lectures of and then worked for the famous physicist Max Planck.
She then went on to work with Otto Hahn, they discovered several new isotopes, and a physical separation method known as radioactive recoil (I Have NO idea what this means!), which they then developed.
In 1917, they found the first long-lived isotope of the element protactinium, and she was awarded the Leibniz Medal by the Berlin Academy of Sciences.
In 1922, she discovered the cause of the emission from surfaces of electrons with ‘signature’ energies, now known as the Auger effect. But despite the fact that she discovered and published her findings first, it is named after Pierre Victor Auger, a French scientist who independently investigated the effect in 1923.
She was given many awards and much recognition towards the end of her life, however, was not named in the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for nuclear fission – it was awarded just to her long-time collaborator Otto Hahn.
The records made by the committee that decided on that prize were opened in the 1990s and read, and scientists and journalists called her exclusion ‘unjust’.
Meitner received the posthumous honour of chemical element 109 being named as meitnerium in 1997.
Yet another clever and extraordinary women.
If you’d like to read about more extraordinary women, why not buy the book Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan – link below, press on book!
- Posted in: A-Z Challenge 2017 ♦ Extraordinary Women ♦ Liz Brownlee ♦ Poems ♦ Reaching the Stars ♦ Reaching the Stars Poems
- Tagged: Extraordinary Women, Injustice, Jan Dean, Lise Meitner, Liz Brownlee, Michaela Morgan, Nuclear Fission, Poems about extraordinary women and girls, poetry, Reaching the Stars, science