Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics

By Ruth Lewin Sime

Synopsis: Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was a pioneer of nuclear physics and co-discoverer, with Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann, of nuclear fission. Braving the sexism of the scientific world, she joined the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry and became a prominent member of the international physics community. Of Jewish origin, Meitner fled Nazi Germany for Stockholm in 1938 and later moved to Cambridge, England. Her career was shattered when she fled Germany, and her scientific reputation was damaged when Hahn took full credit—and the 1944 Nobel Prize—for the work they had done together on nuclear fission. Ruth Sime’s absorbing book is the definitive biography of Lise Meitner, the story of a brilliant woman whose extraordinary life illustrates not only the dramatic scientific progress but also the injustice and destruction that have marked the twentieth century.

Published: March 1996 | ISBN-13: 978-0520208605

Mini bio: Lise Meitner was an Austrian physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize. Meitner is often mentioned as one of the most glaring examples of women’s scientific achievement overlooked by the Nobel committee. A 1997 Physics Today study concluded that Meitner’s omission was “a rare instance in which personal negative opinions apparently led to the exclusion of a deserving scientist” from the Nobel. Element 109, meitnerium, is named in her honour. – From Lise Meitner’s Wiki Entry

Author’s mini-bio: Ruth Lewin Sime taught chemistry at Sacramento City College from 1968 until she retired in 2000.  She is the author of Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics, the award-winning biography of the woman who co-discovered nuclear fission, which was published by the University of California Press in 1996. – From her University Profile.

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