Atomic Science Chemistry Physics

Hahn, Meitner and the discovery of nuclear fission

80 years ago, Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner made a discovery that led to nuclear weapons. The combination of Hahn’s expertise in chemistry with Meitner’s in physics opened the door to artificially induced nuclear fission. They both died in 1968, and were honoured as major contributors to science, although some argue that Meitner did not receive all the recognition she deserved. With the benefit of half a century’s hindsight, we may now be better placed to consider their achievements objectively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Their contributions opened the door to artificially induced nuclear fission
  • The key to Hahn’s breakthrough was the neutron
  • Meitner found that about one-fifth of a neutron’s mass remained unaccounted for. This, she concluded, was converted into energy in accordance with Einstein’s E = mc2 equation.

“The combination of Hahn’s expertise in chemistry with Meitner’s in physics opened the door to artificially induced nuclear fission. Meitner fled from persecution in 1938, Hahn gave her his mother’s diamond ring to bribe a border guard with.”

Read more: https://www.chemistryworld.com/features/hahn-meitner-and-the-discovery-of-nuclear-fission/3009604.article#.W-A0sOuZyMU.twitter

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