AUTHORCrawford, Elisabeth / Sime, Ruth Lewin / Walker, Mark
TITLEA Nobel Tale of Postwar Injustice
PERIODICAL TITLEPhysics Today
DATE PUBLISHED1997
VOLUME NUMBER50
ISSUE NUMBER9 (September)
PAGE NUMBERS26-32
ISSN0031-9228


This article chronicles the events and reasoning that explain why nuclear physicist Lise Meitner failed to receive a Nobel Prize in 1946 for her work in the discovery of fission. The authors briefly present an overview of Meitner’s work with Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann, and later with her nephew Otto Frisch. Using official records of the Nobel Prize deliberations, they then review the Nobel committee’s assessments of fission and of how the discovery was made, and they analyze the failures of the committee to properly take into account Meitner’s participation in the discovery. The article also discusses later failed attempts to award the prize to Meitner. Two text boxes contain information on Meitner’s escape from Nazi Germany in 1938 and other Nobel Prize controversies.


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