Lise Mietner

Born in Vienna, Austria Nov. 7, 1878- Oct. 27, 1968

Discovery of Nuclear Fission

While working in a team of three, Mietner and her group discovered nuclear fission in 1938. Nuclear fission is either the nuclear reaction or the radioactive decay process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts. This process can produce free neutrons and photons in the form of gamma rays and releases a very large amount of energy.

Only one in her group received the Nobel Prize and recognition for nuclear fission though he believed that her and her other partner "contributed something not insignificant to the clarification of the process of uranium fission."

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How It Still Affects Us Today

They published their theories and findings of nuclear fission in three different reports which had electrifying effects on the scientific community because there was a possibility to create weapons using nuclear fission. Due to this information being in German hands, Albert Einstein was prompted to write a letter of caution to FDR. After the Frisch-Peierls Memorandum was written, which was the first technical exposition of a practical atomic weapon, the Manhatten Project was kicked off which ultimately ended up in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mietner refused to work on the project and later said that she was "sorry that the bomb had to be invented."

The discovery of nuclear fission created the first atomic weapon which led to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Cold War. Nuclear weapons have threatened the world since their creation and the threat of nuclear warfare sometimes looms over us even today. This is all due to nuclear fission.