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Concept: Lise Meitner


Contributions from men to radiation science are well known, particularly the early contributions from such luminaries as William Roentgen, James Chadwick, Niels Bohr, Robert Oppenheimer, and the like. Although not ignored per se, beyond Marie Curie and Lise Meitner, the contributions of female nuclear scientists are not as widely recognized. This paper provides a concise historical summary of contributions to radiation science from the discovery of radiation through the current status of international leadership within the radiation protection community. Beyond lead scientists and academics, this paper also considers support personnel as well as the role women have played in the advancement of radiation epidemiology.

Concepts: Nuclear physics, Uranium, Nuclear fission, Nobel Prize, Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Manhattan Project, Lise Meitner


My “science heroes” are Otto Hahn and Hans Hellmann. My favorite authors are Walter Kempowski and John Updike.

Concepts: Marcel Proust, Lise Meitner, German chemists


During the 1920s and 1930s, Italian physicists established strong relationships with scientists from other European countries and the United States. The career of Bruno Rossi, a leading personality in the study of cosmic rays and an Italian pioneer of this field of research, provides a prominent example of this kind of international cooperation. Physics underwent major changes during these turbulent years, and the traditional internationalism of physics assumed a more institutionalized character. Against this backdrop, Rossi’s early work was crucial in transforming the study of cosmic rays into a branch of modern physics. His friendly relationships with eminent scientists–notably Enrico Fermi, Walther Bothe, Werner Heisenberg, Hans Bethe, and Homi Bhabha–were instrumental both for the exchange of knowledge about experimental practices and theoretical discussions, and for attracting the attention of physicists such as Arthur Compton, Louis Leprince-Ringuet, Pierre Auger and Patrick Blackett to the problem of cosmic rays. Relying on material from different archives in Europe and the United States, this case study aims to provide a glimpse of the intersection between national and international dimensions during the 1930s, at a time when the study of cosmic rays was still very much in its infancy, strongly interlaced with nuclear physics, and full of uncertain, contradictory, and puzzling results. Nevertheless, as a source of high-energy particles it became a proving ground for testing the validity of the laws of quantum electrodynamics, and made a fundamental contribution to the origins of particle physics.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Particle physics, Enrico Fermi, Cosmic ray, Werner Heisenberg, Manhattan Project, Lise Meitner, Nobel laureates in Physics


The fascinating story of the discovery of nuclear fission began with an error that earned Enrico Fermi a Nobel Prize for the apparent but incorrect discovery of the transuranic elements. Careful repetition and extension of the experiments finally led to the correct interpretation by Hahn, Meitner, Strassmann, Frisch, and Bohr as an effect from nuclear fission of the “small impurity” of 0.7‚ÄČ% ${{}_{\hskip 0.3em 92}^{235} {\rm{U}}}$ contained in natural uranium.

Concepts: Nuclear physics, Uranium, Nuclear fission, Enrico Fermi, Manhattan Project, Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, Fritz Strassmann