Lise Meitner was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1878 and studied physics at the University of Vienna. Her groundbreaking work started with the discovery of the element protactinium with Otto Hahn. Then, in 1923, Meitner deduced the Auger effect, when an atom sheds one or two of its electrons in order to stabilize. However, the process is named for French physicist Pierre Auger, who didn’t even identify the atomic reaction for another two years. This was the first of her breakthroughs that would be blatantly overlooked.
In 1939, Meitner along with her nephew, Otto Frisch, discovered nuclear fission, or the practice of splitting atoms apart with neutrons. This research was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb. Meitner first discovered nuclear fission, but Otto Hahn took home the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery in 1944. She never won the Nobel Prize for her work, but element 109 of the periodic table was named Meitnerium (Mt) in her honor in 1992.
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