A question on the television quiz show Only Connect recently required the team to know four women scientists who narrowly missed the Nobel prize. One of these was Lise Meitner. Meitner was an outstanding woman who reached academic positions in physics that, at the time, were regarded as unattainable for a woman.
Meitner was born in Vienna on 7 November 1878 to Jewish parents, and started studying science and maths when she was 8. She became only the second woman to achieve a doctorate of the University of Vienna. After her doctorate, she attended lectures given by Max Planck and became his assistant. She worked on the chemistry of radioactive elements on beta decay and on the discovery of protactinium 231 with the chemist Otto Hahn. In her thirties she was given her first permanent position at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin.
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