German Chemist, discovered nuclear fission
Otto Hahn (1879-1968), German radio chemist and Nobel Prize winner, is born. Hahn discovered nuclear fission, in particular, the split of uranium atom into barium and krypton.
He was awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and shared the 1966 Enrico Fermi Award. Hahn was involved in the discovery of several new radio elements, among them radiothorium, radioactinium and mesothorioum, but his best-known research was on the irradiation of uranium and thorium with neutrons. This work, initially in association with physicist Lise Meitner and later with Fritz Strassmann, led to the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938 … and to his 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Otto Hahn was greatly upset upon realization that his discovery led to the horrendous bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a result, it’s alleged that he became a die-hard opponent of nuclear weapons.
- Biographical Dictionary, edited by Una McGovern, Chambers (2003)
- The Little book of Scientific Principles, Theories & Things, by Surendra Verma, NH (2005)
Otto Hahn in 1944, Wiki Commons. Retrieved March 8, 2012.