Otto Hahn (1879-1968)

Otto Hahn
was a German physicist. He received the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

In 1918 he, together with Meitner, discovered protactinium (a chemical element Pa). When Meitner fled Nazi Germany in 1938, he continued work with Fritz Strassmann on elucidating the outcome of the bombardment of uranium with thermal neutrons. He communicated his results to Meitner who, in collaboration with her nephew Otto Frisch, correctly interpreted them as evidence of nuclear fission (a phrase coined by Frisch).

Once the idea of fission had been accepted, Hahn continued his experiments and demonstrated the huge amounts of energy that neutron-induced fission could produce, either for energy production or warfare.
During World War II Hahn was a participant in the German program to develop a fission weapon. In the post-war era Hahn becomes a popular fighter against the use of nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, despite the contributions of Strassmann and Meitner, it was Hahn who was awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery. Unfortunately, Hahn was not at the awards ceremony to receive his prize. At the time he learned of the award, he was being held by the British who were seeking information from him about the failed German effort to develop an atomic bomb. As the Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry reported "Professor Hahn . . . has informed us that he is regrettably unable to attend this ceremony."

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Image Country Year Description
Madagascar 1993 Otto Hahn,Hideki Yokawa, USS Nautilus
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