Throughout the month, I’m highlighting notable physicists who’ve been memorialized within the Arcade Courtyard in the main building of the University of Vienna:
2 Apr: Lise Meitner;
9 Apr: Christian Doppler, Erwin Schrödinger;
16 Apr: Joseph Littrow, Karl Littrow;
23 Apr: Josef Stefan;
30 Apr: Ludwig Boltzmann.
These are all names whose work and discovery form the historical and scientific basis of my university education in the field of physics.
Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was an Austrian physicist whose work with chemist Otto Hahn produced breakthroughs in our understanding of atomic and nuclear physics. Meitner overcame obstacles blocking women from studying and working at universities in the early 20th-century. She wanted to study at the University of Vienna, and thanks to her parents’ support, she studied on her own and successfully passed the university’s entrance examination in 1901. She studied physics over the next five years; physicist Ludwig Boltzmann was one of her instructors and advisors. In 1906, Meitner became the 3rd woman at the university to receive a doctorate in physics (after Olga Ehrenhaft-Steindler and Selma Freund). In 1907, she moved to Berlin where she would stay for over 30 years. In 1926, she became one of the first women appointed to associate professor at Berlin University and the first woman as professor of physics in Germany. Her Jewish lineage meant loss of title and employment, and in mid-1938, a hasty departure from Germany and exile to Sweden. In 1939, she and her nephew physicist Otto Frisch published a short breakthrough paper with their theoretical analysis of the newly discovered process of “nuclear fission” in experiments with uranium and thorium by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann. Later, she refused to help with the construction of an atomic bomb and objected to the use of nuclear weapons for the rest of her life.
Like many, I believe Lise Meitner should have been honoured as co-Laureate for the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded solely to Otto Hahn. In mid-2016, the University of Vienna unveiled a monument in her honour.
The university’s historical main building is inside the city’s Old Town which has been inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. I made the photo above on 16 May 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/60-sec, f/9, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-iFJ.