Meitner, Lise

Meitner, Lise lē´zə mīt´nər [key], 1878–1968, Austrian-Swedish physicist and mathematician. She was professor at the Univ. of Berlin (1926–33). A refugee from Germany after 1938, she became associated with the Univ. of Stockholm and with the Nobel Institute at Stockholm. In 1917, working with Otto Hahn , she isolated the most stable isotope of the element protactinium ; she also investigated the disintegration products of radium , thorium , and actinium and the behavior of beta rays. In 1938 she participated in experimental research in bombarding the uranium nucleus with slow-speed neutrons. Meitner interpreted the results as a fission of the nucleus and calculated that vast amounts of energy were liberated. Her conclusion contributed to the development of the atomic bomb. In 1949, she became a Swedish citizen. The element with the atomic number 109 is named meitnerium in her honor.

See biography by R. L. Sime (1996); P. Rife, Lise Meitner and the Dawn of the Nuclear Age (1997).

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