Lise Meitner: An Unsung Scientist - Contents of life

New posts

A blog about anything under the Sun

Post Top Ad

Responsive Ads Here

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lise Meitner: An Unsung Scientist

I happen to read a Marathi translation by author Vina Gavankar  of a book name "Lise Meitner, a life in Physics" by Ruth Lewis Sime.


Its about an Austrian Woman Scientist Lise Meitner.
Have you heard  this name before. I am pretty sure not, unless, you are closely related to the field of Atomic Structure and Radioactivity.
Some body suggested me to read the book mentioning about a scientist who was really responsible for the world to know "Nuclear Fission" and a Scientist who was nominated for Nobel prize 15 times but never received it.
  Though am closely connected to the field of research, even I had never heard of this lady and so I decided  to give it a read.

Although I am not sure how much justice the translated version has done to the original book, the translation was easy to read through. Sometimes, it feels like confusing for the reader and some times appeared contradicting words mentioned earlier. But that is a personal opinion probably coming out of failure to understand the context and loosing continuity. But, it was a great opportunity to read the book and known an important yet pretty much unknown Scientist.

Life of Lise (originally Elise) was full of struggles and mostly a fight to get a recognition. In spite of her great talent, she wasn't allowed to enter college because she was a girl. She started taking higher education at the age of 23, after a gap of almost 9 years. But her interest in Physics and Music helped her to continue working.
 After finishing Ph.D, she was struggling to get a position, because it was not common then for a woman to have a position. Until the age of 35, she was pretty much working on her own with financial assistance received from her parents.
She made some major contribution in the study of alfa and beta radiations and if we decide to believe the book, She was the first one to reveal the concept of nuclear fission.
She was praised by Albert Einstein  as the "German Marie Curie".
All her life she had to struggle either for being a Jew, or for being a Woman, or for being a guest in a Foreign land. She dedicated nearly 30 years working in Germany but had to run away to Sweden at the beginning of World War II. Her one time best friend and colleague Otto Hahn, a Physical Chemist, unable to understand the concept of Nuclear Fission, and explained to him by Lise, was in the end given all the credit  for Nuclear Fission. Even the instruments designed and developed by Lise were kept in Museum under the name of Otto Hahn. It took year 1990 to arise  when due credit for the instruments were given to her.
Lise did made some mistakes which possibly are partly responsible for her struggling life. She had an opportunity to move to Copenhagen, Denmark, when many German Scientist  like Einstein were moving out of Germany against upcoming Natzi government. But she denied moving out of Germany giving preference to her ongoing research work.
Later on, while in Sweden, when she was struggling with position and facilities, she had an offer to move to England, but she wasn't keen to again shift to a new place.

In later part of her life she did received lot of felicitations and  awards, but in spite of big recommendations, she  never received Nobel. Though, every body knew her contribution to Nuclear Fission, it was always denied to her, while Hahn got one in 1944.
But some where down the lane, she was rewarded better by giving her name to a new element with atomic number 109, Meitnerium.
So, anybody ever come these books, do give it a read and understand the difficulties she faced and inspite rose to such a height.
Post a Comment

Post Top Ad

Responsive Ads Here