Lise Meitner, Arthur Compton and Katherine Cornell

Lise Meitner, Arthur Compton and Katherine Cornell

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Credit: SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Lise Meitner, German chemist, and Arthur Compton, US physicist, with Katherine Cornell (left). Lise Meitner (1878-1968), was a pioneer of nuclear chemistry. She worked with Otto Hahn in the 1930s on uranium bombarded with neutrons, but they did not realise fission was occurring. In 1938, Meitner (who was Jewish) fled Nazi Germany to Sweden. By 1939, both Hahn and Meitner had worked out that nuclear fission was taking place. This led to the building of the first atomic bomb. Arthur Compton (1892-1962), was a US physicist who received the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics for showing that photons have energy and momentum, and that in quantum mechanics, an object can behave as both a particle and a wave at the same time. This is known as wave-particle duality. He also studied cosmic rays and showed that some of these were deflected by the Earth's magnetic field.

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