Sweden: Lise Meitner

7th November 1878 – 27th October 1968

Lise Meitner - Image from Anne Meitner/Lotte Meitner-Graf

An Austrian-Swedish physicist well known for her contribution in Nuclear Fission, Lise was an unrecognized scientist in the scientific community for a brief period of time. She is the major contributor to the discovery of fission with Otto Hahn, who received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1944, but not shared with her. Today, she is known as the “most important” physicist of the 20th century.

She is sometimes known as “German Marie Curie”, since she made it clear that most of the best research was done in Berlin, where she spent many years. She was the 2nd woman to obtain a PhD at the University of Vienna in 1905. In 1938, she was forced to flee from Germany and soon made Sweden her home.

To correct the Nobel Prize “mistake”, Meitner, Hahn and Strassman were awarded the Enrico Fermi Award in 1966 in the USA. Though she is mostly remembered for her loss of the Nobel Prize, being a Jewish and then a path-breaking woman in science, she is said to have fulfilled the wish she had in life of being able to contribute to science. This does not damage her posthumous reputation.

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