About the name Historia


Lise Meitner

Research Scientist, Physics and Nuclear Science (1878-1968)



Lise grew up in Austria, and wanted to be a scientist. In Austria, though, few women were allowed into universities. Despite this, Lise became the first woman to graduate with a doctoral degree in physics from the University of Vienna. She moved to Berlin, Germany so she could be near more scientists, and studied atoms (tiny particles that make up every element) with Dr. Otto Hahn. They studied together for 30 years, and discovered a new element, protactinium. Because Lise was Jewish, she was forced to move to Sweden in order to escape Nazi Germany. She then worked in the Nobel Physics Institute. Dr. Hahn contacted her about a strange reaction he noticed during experiments with uranium atoms, and Lise discovered that tremendous energy could be released when atoms were split. Dr. Lise Meitner told others of her discovery of "nuclear fission". This discovery was used in weapons, but also in more useful purposes, such as power and medicine.

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Information adapted from History of Women in Science for Young People by Vivian Sheldon Epstein.