Audio drama about the physicist Lise Meitner

Friday, 8 March 2019 - 1:00 am
Poster Lise Meitner
Room number: 
Academic Hall
Contact information
Contact person: 
Agatha Schwartz
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Cost to attend: 
Free of charge
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Event sponsors: 
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures; Embassy of Austria; Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies

Deine Lise. Audio drama about the important but neglected Austrian-Swedish physicist Lise Meitner, performed by Viennese artist Stefan Frankenberger. In German and English.

 Science is Feminine

These days, prejudices against women getting an education seem absurd, but around 1900 they were viewed as facts: girls were said to be too superficial, the desire for a university education a sign of hysteria; the female brain was thought ill-suited to studying, and educated women supposedly became “man-ladies”. Today, by contrast, the share of women among those who qualify for university studies by passing Austria’s Matura examination stands at 60%.   Lise Meitner Physicist (1878—1968) Since 1896, it had been possible in Vienna to take an external Matura, an exam, that entitled those who had passed it to study at university. Lisa Meitner took and passed her Matura in 1901.  Following conventional training as a French teacher, she engaged in doctoral studies under Ludwig Bolzmann and earned her doctorate in 1906 with a dissertation on “Heat Conduction in Inhomogeneous Bodies”. She then went to Berlin and did research with chemist Otto Hahn in a basement lab, since—as a woman—she was not permitted to enter his institute at that time. She eventually became an assistant to Max Planck, despite Plank’s earlier opinion that “it would be a great mistake […] to admit women to academic study.” In 1926, Lisa Meitner was appointed professor of particle physics, but as a Jew, she was barred from teaching in 1933 despite Planck’s intercession. Her subsequent exile in Stockholm saw her maintain close contact with Otto Hahn and coin the term “nuclear fission”, and she published calculations on the energy released by this process in 1939. This eventually led to the staunchly pacifist Meitner being named “Woman of the Year” and “Mother of the Atom Bomb” following explosion of the first atom bomb over Hiroshima. But in 1946, it was Otto Hahn alone who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering nuclear fission. Though Lisa Meitner was to log a total of 47 Nobel Prize nominations during her lifetime, she was ultimately be denied this honour. She did, however, become the first woman member of the natural sciences division of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
Academic Hall, 135 Seraphin-Marion Private, University of Ottawa. 1:00 pm. Free admission