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Lise Meitner and the Dawn of the Nuclear Age (Paperback)

By: Patricia Rife

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Short Desription

"A story of one of the half dozen most remarkable women of the 20th century."

—John Archibald Wheeler

"The dramatic tale of the discovery of nuclear fission on the eve of WWII…not just a story of ideas…but also of the social and intellectual milieu in which these ideas were developed. It is also the story of how a shy, self-effacing young woman, through talent and hard work, became a world-class scientist…Rife tells this story very well."

—The Antioch Review

"The particular merit of Rife’s biography of Austrian physicist Meitner is that it places her life and work within the historical context…It is comprehensive, generally clearly written…and appropriate for undergraduate students. Just enough science is included as to make clear the significance of her work...Extensive bibliography, informative footnotes."


In this captivating biography, Patricia Rife interprets both the life and times of Lise Meitner (1878-1968), the female physicist at the heart of the discovery of nuclear fission. She was a colleague and friend of many of the giants of 20th century physics: M. Planck, her Berlin mentor, A. Einstein, M. von Laue, Madame M. Curie, J. Chadwick, W. Pauli, and N. Bohr. Meitner was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Vienna, a pioneer in the research of radioactive processes and, together with her nephew Otto Robert Frisch, an interpreter of the process of nuclear fission in 1938. Yet at the end of World War II, her colleague of thirty years, radiochemist Otto Hahn alone was awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the "discovery" of nuclear fission -- a discovery based on years of research in which Meitner was directly involved before her secret escape from Nazi Germany.

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