Lise Meitner (1878-1968)

"The Woman Who Left Germany with the Bomb in her Purse"

Contributions to Science

Meitner is often considered the most significant and influential female scientist of the 20th century. She discovered the Auger Effect (a process where electrons are forcefully ejected from atoms by other electrons) two years before the French scientist it is named for.
In addition, she discovered the element 91st Protactinium (Pa) with some help from her long time research partner Otto Hahn.
Although Hahn was (wrongly) awarded a Nobel Prize for his research regarding Nuclear Fission, Meitner is the person who first discovered it. She and her nephew, Otto Frisch, published a paper about Nuclear Fission five years prior to Hahn getting credit for her work.
She was so influential with her work, her discoveries were used as evidence for scientists who convinced Albert Einstein to write a letter to President Roosevelt; this letter would lead to the Manhattan Project.
Though it was discovered in 1992, long after her death, the universe's heaviest known element, Meitnerium (Mt) was named for her.

Fast Facts

Born- November 7th, 1878
Birthplace- Vienna, Austria
Education: Meitner received her Physics Doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1906. Afterwards, she studied and did experiments at the University of Berlin, then later the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry; at the latter, she headed the Physics Department.
Died- October 27th, 1968
Place of Death- Cambridge, England

Meitner's Contributions Explained