Lise Meitner

woman in 19th century clothing in front of banana tree
Dr. Lise Meitner

Quick Facts

Significance:
The “mother of nuclear fission.”
Place of Birth:
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Date of Birth:
November 7, 1878
Place of Death:
Cambridge, England
Date of Death:
October 27, 1968
Place of Burial:
Bramley in Hampshire, UK
Cemetery Name:
St. James Parish Church

Lise Meitner was born in Austria to a Jewish family in 1878. Meitner became the second woman to earn a doctoral degree in physics at the University of Vienna in 1905. After graduation Meitner moved to Berlin and began working with Otto Hahn where they discovered several new isotopes. In 1922, Meitner became the first woman in Germany to become a full professor in physics at the University of Berlin. In 1938, Meitner was forced to travel in secret out of Berlin to Sweden where she would continue her work. Six months later Meitner and Otto Frisch published results explaining and naming nuclear fission. Although nominated several times, Lise did not receive the Nobel Prize for her work. Otto Hahn was given the award. Offered a position on the Manhattan Project, Meitner refused the work stating “I will have nothing to do with a bomb.” Element 109,discovered in 1997, was named in her honor. Meitnerium.

Last updated: October 12, 2018