The Mother of the Atomic Bomb
Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was born in Vienna, the daughter of the first Jewish lawyer in Austria. Meitner showed an early interest in nuclear physics, working alongside such greats as Max Planck and Neils Bohr. Following World War I (in which she served as an x-ray nurse), Meitner discovered the famous “Auger effect”, but all the recognition was taken from her and given to Pierre Auger, hence the name. Soon after, she became the first-ever female professor of physics in Germany, but it did not last. Meitner was forced to flee from the Nazis. Over the course of her career, she helped discover many new elements of the periodic table, but by far her greatest achievement was the discovery of nuclear fission. Meitner was the first to show a nuclear chain reaction can release tremendous amounts of energy, the basis for nuclear bombs (and power plants). This inspired celebrity genius Albert Einstein to write a letter to President Roosevelt, initiating the Manhattan Project. Meitner was asked to work on the Project, but she refused with the words: “I will have nothing to do with a bomb!” Nonetheless, she is often called the Mother of the Atomic Bomb. Unbelievably, she was slighted once again when the Nobel prize for nuclear fission was given to Otto Hahn. If it is any consolation, the element Meitnerium (Mt, number 109) is named after her. November 17 was her birthday.
Words of the Week
When something is broken below, repair it above. And know that it is never truly repaired above until it is in order below.
– The Chassidic Masters