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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Lise Meitner Quotes

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Lise Meitner
(7 Nov 1878 - 27 Oct 1968)

Austrian-Swedish physicist.

Science Quotes by Lise Meitner (6 quotes)

I will have nothing to do with a bomb!
[Response to being invited (1943) to work with Otto Robert Frisch and some British scientists at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project to create the atomic bomb.]
— Lise Meitner
Ruth Sime, Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics (1996), 305.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Bomb (107)

In the discussion of the. energies involved in the deformation of nuclei, the concept of surface tension of nuclear matter has been used and its value had been estimated from simple considerations regarding nuclear forces. It must be remembered, however, that the surface tension of a charged droplet is diminished by its charge, and a rough estimate shows that the surface tension of nuclei, decreasing with increasing nuclear charge, may become zero for atomic numbers of the order of 100. It seems therefore possible that the uranium nucleus has only small stability of form, and may, after neutron capture, divide itself into two nuclei of roughly equal size (the precise ratio of sizes depending on liner structural features and perhaps partly on chance). These two nuclei will repel each other and should gain a total kinetic energy of c. 200 Mev., as calculated from nuclear radius and charge. This amount of energy may actually be expected to be available from the difference in packing fraction between uranium and the elements in the middle of the periodic system. The whole 'fission' process can thus be described in an essentially classical way, without having to consider quantum-mechanical 'tunnel effects', which would actually be extremely small, on account of the large masses involved.
[Co-author with Otto Robert Frisch]
— Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner and O. R. Frisch, 'Disintegration of Uranium by Neutrons: a New Type of Nuclear Reaction', Nature (1939), 143, 239.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Number (3)  |  Charge (35)  |  Deformation (3)  |  Estimate (28)  |  Fission (7)  |  Kinetic Energy (3)  |  Nucleus (33)  |  Quantum Theory (57)  |  Radius (4)  |  Repulsion (5)  |  Surface Tension (2)  |  Uranium (17)

No-one really thought of fission before its discovery.
— Lise Meitner
Oral History Interview with Thomas S. Kuhn where Otto Robert Frisch was also present (12 May 1963), Archive for the History of Quantum Physics, 18-20. Ruth Sime, Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics (1996), 371.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (680)  |  Fission (7)  |  Thinking (231)

O. Hahn and F. Strassmann have discovered a new type of nuclear reaction, the splitting into two smaller nuclei of the nuclei of uranium and thorium under neutron bombardment. Thus they demonstrated the production of nuclei of barium, lanthanum, strontium, yttrium, and, more recently, of xenon and caesium. It can be shown by simple considerations that this type of nuclear reaction may be described in an essentially classical way like the fission of a liquid drop, and that the fission products must fly apart with kinetic energies of the order of hundred million electron-volts each.
— Lise Meitner
'Products of the Fission of the Urarium Nucleus', Nature (1939), 143, 471.
Science quotes on:  |  Barium (3)  |  Bombardment (3)  |  Classical (16)  |  Consideration (85)  |  Demonstration (86)  |  Drop (40)  |  Fission (7)  |  Otto Hahn (2)  |  Kinetic Energy (3)  |  Lanthanum (2)  |  Liquid (25)  |  Neutron (11)  |  Nuclear Reaction (2)  |  Nucleus (33)  |  Product (82)  |  Production (117)  |  Strontium (2)  |  Thorium (4)  |  Uranium (17)  |  Xenon (5)  |  Yttrium (3)

Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist.
— Lise Meitner
Lecture, Austrian UNESCO Commision (30 Mar 1953), in Atomenergie und Frieden: Lise Meitner und Otto Hahn (1953), 23-4. Trans. Ruth Sime, Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics (1996), 375.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (65)  |  Admiration (44)  |  Awe (33)  |  Joy (88)  |  Objectivity (9)  |  People (390)  |  Reality (190)  |  Science (2067)  |  Teach (188)  |  Truth (928)  |  Wonder (169)

You must not blame us scientists for the use which war technicians have put our discoveries.
— Lise Meitner
From interview, 'Is the Atom Terror Exaggerated?', Saturday Evening Post (1946). As cited in Patricia Rife, Lise Meitner and the Dawn of the Nuclear Age (1999), 255.
Science quotes on:  |  Blame (24)  |  Discovery (680)  |  Scientist (522)  |  Technician (8)  |  War (161)

Quotes by others about Lise Meitner (2)

We [Frisch and Lise Meitner] walked up and down in the snow, I on skis and she on foot (she said and proved that she could get along just as fast that way), and gradually the idea took shape that this was no chipping or cracking of the nucleus but rather a process to be explained by Bohr’s idea that the nucleus was like a liquid drop; such a drop might elongate and divide itself.
Otto Frisch and John A. Wheeler, 'The Discovery of Fission', Physics Today, Nov 1967, 20, 47.
Science quotes on:  |  Niels Bohr (53)  |  Nucleus (33)

Our Marie Curie. [Referring to Lise Meitner]
Ruth Sime, Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics (1996), 74-5.
Science quotes on:  |  Marie Curie (32)

See also:
  • 7 Nov - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Meitner's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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