- Paperback: 540 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; 1st edition (June 27, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520208609
- ISBN-13: 978-0520208605
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #892,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics 1st Edition
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"Sime has produced a magnificent biography that should help rescue Meitner from oblivion. . . . The story, especially in the lead-up to the discovery of fission by Hahn, Meitner, and Strassman, is absolutely gripping, full of twists and false dawns."--Tania Monteiro, "New Scientist
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But the book is about much more than the Hitler and post-war years. It covers the details of Meitner’s childhood in Vienna and spends a good deal of time spelling out her work in experimental nuclear physics. Non-scientists may have a hard time following certain sections in the book in which Sime, a chemist, explains the details of Meitner’s work with the radioactive elements. But this is important for the historical record of Meitner’s achievements and the book would be incomplete without it. To anyone with a background in chemistry and physics these sections are a central part of the history of our understanding of radioactivity. Sime, unlike many writers about science, is able to combine the details of her subject's scientific work with a superbly written account of her personal struggles. Parts of the book are gripping reading. Meitner’s escape from Nazi Germany was a desperate move surrounded by life-threatening dangers and bureaucratic blocks to her movement. Her relationship with those scientists who stayed in Germany provides a thirty year post-war dialogue about courage and cowardice, truth and self-deception, and whether scientists should be held responsible for what happens to their discoveries. Meitner’s close friendship with Hahn and the voluminous correspondence between them may be unique in the history of physics. After the war Otto Hahn went on to become a household name in Germany – a man who stood for scientific achievement, integrity and charm. Streets, institutes, postage stamps – all honored him. This book is about his partner, a woman whose achievements were misunderstood and usually overlooked. Lise Meitner deserved so much more. I highly recommend the book.
I caution the reader that there is a lot of detailed physics in the descriptions of her experiments. However even if the physics is glossed over the rest of the book is well worth an attentive read. Lise Meitner will interest you because she is such a refined and moral character. She will gain your admiration, not just as a physicist but as one deeply involved with her very interesting and famous colleagues, her important work and her steadfastness in life.