Otto Hahn

Otto Hahn

Overview
Otto Hahn FRS  was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 chemist
Chemist
A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties such as density and acidity. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms...

 and Nobel laureate
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature,...

, a pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry
Radiochemistry
Radiochemistry is the chemistry of radioactive materials, where radioactive isotopes of elements are used to study the properties and chemical reactions of non-radioactive isotopes...

. He is regarded as "the father of nuclear chemistry". Hahn was a courageous opposer of Jewish persecution by the Nazis and after World War II he became a passionate campaigner against the use of nuclear energy as a weapon. He served as the last President of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (KWG) in 1946 and as the founding President of the Max Planck Society
Max Planck Society
The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes publicly funded by the federal and the 16 state governments of Germany....

 (MPG) from 1948 to 1960.
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Encyclopedia
Otto Hahn FRS  was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 chemist
Chemist
A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties such as density and acidity. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms...

 and Nobel laureate
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature,...

, a pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry
Radiochemistry
Radiochemistry is the chemistry of radioactive materials, where radioactive isotopes of elements are used to study the properties and chemical reactions of non-radioactive isotopes...

. He is regarded as "the father of nuclear chemistry". Hahn was a courageous opposer of Jewish persecution by the Nazis and after World War II he became a passionate campaigner against the use of nuclear energy as a weapon. He served as the last President of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (KWG) in 1946 and as the founding President of the Max Planck Society
Max Planck Society
The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes publicly funded by the federal and the 16 state governments of Germany....

 (MPG) from 1948 to 1960. Considered by many to be a model for scholarly excellence and personal integrity, he became one of the most influential citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Early life


Hahn was the youngest son of Heinrich Hahn (1845–1922), a prosperous glazier and entrepreneur ("Glasbau Hahn"), and Charlotte Hahn, née Giese (1845–1905). Together with his brothers Karl, Heiner and Julius, Otto was raised in a sheltered environment. At the age of 15, he began to take a special interest in chemistry and carried out simple experiments in the laundry room of the family home. His father wanted Otto to study architecture, as he had built or acquired several residential and business properties. But Otto persuaded him that his ambition was to become an industrial chemist.

In 1897, after taking his Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

at the Klinger Oberrealschule in Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

, Hahn began to study chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 and mineralogy
Mineralogy
Mineralogy is the study of chemistry, crystal structure, and physical properties of minerals. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization.-History:Early writing...

 at the University of Marburg. His subsidiary subjects were physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. Hahn joined the Students' Association of Natural Sciences and Medicine, a student fraternity and a forerunner of today's Nibelungia Fraternity. He spent his third and fourth semester studying under Adolf von Baeyer
Adolf von Baeyer
Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer was a German chemist who synthesized indigo, and was the 1905 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Born in Berlin, he initially studied mathematics and physics at Berlin University before moving to Heidelberg to study chemistry with Robert Bunsen...

 at the University of Munich. In 1901, Hahn received his doctorate in Marburg for a dissertation entitled On Bromine Derivates of Isoeugenol, a topic in classical organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

. After completing his one year military service, the young chemist returned to the University of Marburg, where for two years he worked as assistant to his doctoral supervisor, Geheimrat Professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 Theodor Zincke
Theodor Zincke
Theodor Zincke was a German chemist and the academic adviser of Otto Hahn.-Life:Theodor Zincke was born in Uelzen on 19 May 1843. He became a pharmacist and graduated in Göttingen with his Staatsexamen. He began studying chemistry with Friedrich Wöhler and received his Ph.D in 1869...

.

Early research


Hahn's intention had been to work in industry. With this in mind, and also to improve his knowledge of English, he took up a post at University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

 in 1904, working under Sir William Ramsay
William Ramsay
Sir William Ramsay was a Scottish chemist who discovered the noble gases and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904 "in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air" .-Early years:Ramsay was born in Glasgow on 2...

, known for having discovered the inert gases. Here Hahn worked on radiochemistry
Radiochemistry
Radiochemistry is the chemistry of radioactive materials, where radioactive isotopes of elements are used to study the properties and chemical reactions of non-radioactive isotopes...

, at that time a very new field. In 1905, in the course of his work with salts of radium
Radium
Radium is a chemical element with atomic number 88, represented by the symbol Ra. Radium is an almost pure-white alkaline earth metal, but it readily oxidizes on exposure to air, becoming black in color. All isotopes of radium are highly radioactive, with the most stable isotope being radium-226,...

, Hahn discovered a substance he called radiothorium (thorium
Thorium
Thorium is a natural radioactive chemical element with the symbol Th and atomic number 90. It was discovered in 1828 and named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder....

 228), which at that time was believed to be a new radioactive element. (In fact, it was a still undiscovered isotope of the known element thorium. The terms "isotopy" and "isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

" were only coined in 1913, by the British chemist Frederick Soddy
Frederick Soddy
Frederick Soddy was an English radiochemist who explained, with Ernest Rutherford, that radioactivity is due to the transmutation of elements, now known to involve nuclear reactions. He also proved the existence of isotopes of certain radioactive elements...

). In the months between late 1905 and early 1906, Hahn visited Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Canada, where he investigated alpha-rays of radiothorium and radioactinium with Ernest Rutherford
Ernest Rutherford
Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson OM, FRS was a New Zealand-born British chemist and physicist who became known as the father of nuclear physics...

 who was teaching at McGill University
McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...

 at the time.

In 1906, Hahn returned to Germany, where he collaborated with Emil Fischer
Hermann Emil Fischer
Hermann Emil Fischer, Emil Fischer was a German chemist and 1902 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He discovered the Fischer esterification. He developed the Fischer projection, a symbolic way of drawing asymmetric carbon atoms.-Early years:Fischer was born in Euskirchen, near Cologne,...

 at the University of Berlin. Fischer placed at his disposal a former woodworking shop ("Holzwerkstatt") in the Chemical Institute to use as his own laboratory. There, in the space of a few months, using extremely primitive apparatus, Hahn discovered mesothorium I, mesothorium II and - independently from Bertram Boltwood
Bertram Boltwood
Bertram Borden Boltwood was an American pioneer of radiochemistry.He graduated from Yale University, and taught there 1897-1900...

 - the mother substance of radium, ionium. In subsequent years, mesothorium I (radium-228) assumed great importance because, like radium-226 (discovered by Pierre
Pierre Curie
Pierre Curie was a French physicist, a pioneer in crystallography, magnetism, piezoelectricity and radioactivity, and Nobel laureate. He was the son of Dr. Eugène Curie and Sophie-Claire Depouilly Curie ...

 and Marie Curie
Marie Curie
Marie Skłodowska-Curie was a physicist and chemist famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes—in physics and chemistry...

), it was ideally suited for use in medical radiation treatment, while costing only half as much to manufacture. (In 1914, for the discovery of mesothorium I, Otto Hahn was first nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature,...

 by Adolf von Baeyer
Adolf von Baeyer
Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer was a German chemist who synthesized indigo, and was the 1905 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Born in Berlin, he initially studied mathematics and physics at Berlin University before moving to Heidelberg to study chemistry with Robert Bunsen...

). In June 1907, by means of the traditional habilitation
Habilitation
Habilitation is the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in several European and Asian countries. Earned after obtaining a research doctorate, such as a PhD, habilitation requires the candidate to write a professorial thesis based on independent...

thesis, Hahn qualified to teach at the University of Berlin. On 28 September 1907 he made the acquaintance of the young Austrian physicist Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner FRS was an Austrian-born, later Swedish, physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize...

, who had transferred from Vienna to Berlin. So began the thirty-year collaboration and lifelong close friendship between the two scientists.

After the physicist Harriet Brooks
Harriet Brooks
Harriet Brooks was the first Canadian woman nuclear physicist. She is most famous for her research on nuclear transmutations and radioactivity. Ernest Rutherford, who guided her graduate work, regarded her as being next to Marie Curie in the calibre of her aptitude.She was born in Exeter, Ontario...

 had observed a radioactive recoil
Collision cascade
A collision cascade is a set of nearby adjacent energetic collisions of atoms induced by an energetic particle in a solid or liquid....

 in 1904, but interpreted it wrongly, Otto Hahn succeeded, in the winter of 1908/09, in demonstrating the radioactive recoil incident to alpha particle
Alpha particle
Alpha particles consist of two protons and two neutrons bound together into a particle identical to a helium nucleus, which is classically produced in the process of alpha decay, but may be produced also in other ways and given the same name...

 emission and interpreting it correctly. "...a profoundly significant discovery in physics with far-reaching consequences", as the physicist Walther Gerlach put it.

In 1910 Hahn was appointed professor, and in 1912 he became head of the Radioactivity Department of the newly founded Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin-Dahlem (since 1956 "Otto Hahn Building of the Free University", Berlin, Thielallee 63). Succeeding Alfred Stock
Alfred Stock
Alfred Stock was a German inorganic chemist. He did pioneering research on the hydrides of boron and silicon, coordination chemistry, mercury, and mercury poisoning...

, Hahn was director of the institute from 1928 to 1946. As early as 1924, Hahn was elected to full membership of the Prussian Academy of Sciences
Prussian Academy of Sciences
The Prussian Academy of Sciences was an academy established in Berlin on 11 July 1700, four years after the Akademie der Künste or "Arts Academy", to which "Berlin Academy" may also refer.-Origins:...

 in Berlin (proposed by Einstein, Planck, Fritz Haber
Fritz Haber
Fritz Haber was a German chemist, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his development for synthesizing ammonia, important for fertilizers and explosives. Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid...

, Schlenk
Schlenk
Schlenk can refer to:The German chemist Wilhelm Schlenk.Also, in chemistry:* Schlenk flask* Schlenk line * Schlenk equilibriumIn education:* Mepco Schlenk Engineering College...

 and von Laue).

In June 1911, while attending a conference in Stettin (today Szczecin
Szczecin
Szczecin , is the capital city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the country's seventh-largest city and the largest seaport in Poland on the Baltic Sea. As of June 2009 the population was 406,427....

, Poland) Otto Hahn met Edith Junghans (1887–1968), an art student. On 22 March 1913 the couple married in Edith's native city of Stettin, where her father, Paul Ferdinand Junghans, was a high-ranking law officer and President of the City Parliament until his 1915 death. Their only child, Hanno, born in 1922, became a distinguished art historian and architectural researcher (at the Hertziana in Rome). In 1960, while on a study trip in France, Dr Hanno Hahn was involved in a fatal car accident, together with his wife and assistant Ilse Hahn, née Pletz. They left a fourteen-year-old son, Dietrich. In 1990, the "Hanno and Ilse Hahn Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Italian Art History" was established to support talented young art historians and in memory of Hanno and Ilse Hahn. It is awarded biennally by the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History, in Rome.

During the First World War, Hahn was conscripted into the army, where he was assigned, together with James Franck
James Franck
James Franck was a German Jewish physicist and Nobel laureate.-Biography:Franck was born to Jacob Franck and Rebecca Nachum Drucker. Franck completed his Ph.D...

 and Gustav Hertz, to the special unit for chemical warfare
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 under the direction of Fritz Haber
Fritz Haber
Fritz Haber was a German chemist, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his development for synthesizing ammonia, important for fertilizers and explosives. Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid...

. The unit developed, tested and produced poison gas for military purposes, and was sent to both the western and eastern front lines. In December 1916, Hahn was transferred to the "Headquarters of His Majesty" in Berlin, and was able to resume his radiochemical research in his institute. In 1917/18 Hahn and Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner FRS was an Austrian-born, later Swedish, physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize...

 isolated a long-lived activity, which they named "proto-actinium". Already in 1913, Kazimierz Fajans
Kazimierz Fajans
-External links:*...

 and Göhring had isolated a short-lived activity from uranium X2 (later known as 234mPa
Isotopes of protactinium
Protactinium has no stable isotopes. There are three naturally occurring isotopes, allowing a standard mass to be given.Standard atomic mass: 231.03588 u...

) and called the substance "brevium". The two activities were different isotopes of the same undiscovered element no. 91. Finally in 1949, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) named this new element protactinium
Protactinium
Protactinium is a chemical element with the symbol Pa and atomic number 91. It is a dense, silvery-gray metal which readily reacts with oxygen, water vapor and inorganic acids. It forms various chemical compounds where protactinium is usually present in the oxidation state +5, but can also assume...

 and confirmed Hahn and Meitner as discoverers.

In February 1921, Otto Hahn published the first report on his discovery of uranium Z (later known as 234Pa
Isotopes of protactinium
Protactinium has no stable isotopes. There are three naturally occurring isotopes, allowing a standard mass to be given.Standard atomic mass: 231.03588 u...

), the first example of nuclear isomer
Nuclear isomer
A nuclear isomer is a metastable state of an atomic nucleus caused by the excitation of one or more of its nucleons . "Metastable" refers to the fact that these excited states have half-lives more than 100 to 1000 times the half-lives of the other possible excited nuclear states...

ism. "...a discovery that was not understood at the time but later became highly significant for nuclear physics", as Walther Gerlach remarked. And, indeed, it was not until 1936 that the young physicist Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
Carl Friedrich Freiherr von Weizsäcker was a German physicist and philosopher. He was the longest-living member of the research team which performed nuclear research in Germany during the Second World War, under Werner Heisenberg's leadership...

 succeeded in providing a theoretical explanation of the phenomenon of nuclear isomerism. For this discovery, whose full significance was recognized by very few, Hahn was again proposed, in 1923, for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, this time by Max Planck
Max Planck
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS, was a German physicist who actualized the quantum physics, initiating a revolution in natural science and philosophy. He is regarded as the founder of the quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.-Life and career:Planck came...

, among others.

In the early 1920s, Otto Hahn created a new field of work. Using the "emanation method", which he had recently developed, and the "emanation ability", he founded what became known as "Applied Radiochemistry
Applied Radiochemistry
Applied radiochemistry was an important collection of lectures by German chemist Otto Hahn published in English in 1936 by the Cornell University Press and simultaneously by the Oxford University Press . Edited by H. Milford, and spanning 278 pages, the volume presents the content of a group of...

" for the researching of general chemical and physical-chemical questions. In 1933 he published a book in English (and later in Russian) entitled "Applied Radiochemistry". It contains the lectures given by Hahn when he was a visiting professor at Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 in Ithaca, New York
Ithaca, New York
The city of Ithaca, is a city in upstate New York and the county seat of Tompkins County, as well as the largest community in the Ithaca-Tompkins County metropolitan area...

 in 1933. In 1966, Glenn T. Seaborg
Glenn T. Seaborg
Glenn Theodore Seaborg was an American scientist who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements", contributed to the discovery and isolation of ten elements, and developed the actinide concept, which led to the current arrangement of the...

, President of the United States Atomic Energy Commission
United States Atomic Energy Commission
The United States Atomic Energy Commission was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by Congress to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S...

, wrote about this book as follows:
"As a young graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley in the mid-1930s and in connection with our work with plutonium a few years later, I used his book "Applied Radiochemistry" as my bible. This book was based on a series of lectures which Professor Hahn had given at Cornell in 1933; it set forth the "laws" for the co-precipitation of minute quantities of radioactive materials when insoluble substances were precipitated from aqueous solutions. I recall reading and rereading every word in these laws of co-precipitation many times, attempting to derive every possible bit of guidance for our work, and perhaps in my zealousness reading into them more than the master himself had intended. I doubt that I have read sections in any other book more carefully or more frequently than those in Hahn's Applied Radiochemistry. In fact, I read the entire volume repeatedly and I recall that my chief disappointment with it was its length. It was too short."

Discovery of nuclear fission


Jointly with Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner FRS was an Austrian-born, later Swedish, physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize...

 and his pupil and assistant Fritz Straßmann (1902–1980), Otto Hahn furthered the research begun by Enrico Fermi
Enrico Fermi
Enrico Fermi was an Italian-born, naturalized American physicist particularly known for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1, and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics...

 and his team in 1934 when they bombarded uranium with neutrons. Until 1938, it was believed that the elements with atomic numbers greater than 92 (known as transuranium elements) arise when uranium atoms are bombarded with neutrons. The German chemist Ida Noddack
Ida Noddack
Ida Noddack , née Ida Tacke, was a German chemist and physicist. She was the first to mention the idea of nuclear fission in 1934. With her husband Walter Noddack she discovered element 75 rhenium...

 proposed an exception. She anticipated the paradigm shift of 1938/39 in her article published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, Nr. 47, 1934, in which she speculated:
"It is conceivable that when heavy nuclei are bombarded with neutrons these nuclei could break down into several fairly large fragments, which are certainly isotopes of known elements, but not neighbours of the irradiated elements."


But no physicist or chemist really took Noddack's speculation seriously or tested it, not even Ida Noddack herself. The idea that heavy atomic nuclei could break down into lighter elements was regarded as totally inadmissible.

Between 1934 and 1938, Hahn, Meitner, and Strassmann found a great number of radioactive transmutation products, all of which they regarded as transuranic. At that time the existence of actinide
Actinide
The actinide or actinoid series encompasses the 15 metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers from 89 to 103, actinium through lawrencium.The actinide series derives its name from the group 3 element actinium...

s was not yet established, and uranium was wrongly believed to be a group 6 element
Group 6 element
A Group 6 element is one in the series of elements in group 6 in the periodic table, which consists of the transition metals chromium , molybdenum , tungsten , and seaborgium ....

 similar to tungsten
Tungsten
Tungsten , also known as wolfram , is a chemical element with the chemical symbol W and atomic number 74.A hard, rare metal under standard conditions when uncombined, tungsten is found naturally on Earth only in chemical compounds. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as...

. It followed that first transuranic elements would be similar to group 7 to 10 elements, i.e. rhenium
Rhenium
Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-white, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an average concentration of 1 part per billion , rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. The free element has...

 and platinoids. Hahn group was indeed able to establish the presence of multiple isotopes of at least four such elements and (mistakenly) identify them as elements with atomic numbers 93 through 96. They were the first scientists to measure the half-life of 239U and to establish chemically that it was an isotope of uranium, but they were unable to continue this work to its logical conclusion and to identify the decay product of 239U - namely, neptunium
Neptunium
Neptunium is a chemical element with the symbol Np and atomic number 93. A radioactive metal, neptunium is the first transuranic element and belongs to the actinide series. Its most stable isotope, 237Np, is a by-product of nuclear reactors and plutonium production and it can be used as a...

 (the real element 93); this task was only completed by Edwin McMillan
Edwin McMillan
Edwin Mattison McMillan was an American physicist and Nobel laureate credited with being the first ever to produce a transuranium element. He shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Glenn Seaborg in 1951....

 and Philip H. Abelson in 1940.


On 13 July 1938, with the help and support of Hahn, Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner FRS was an Austrian-born, later Swedish, physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize...

, who was at great risk as she was of Jewish ancestry and had lost her Austrian citizenship after the Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

, emigrated to Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, Sweden by crossing the German-Dutch border illegally. Hahn continued to work with Strassmann. In late 1938 they found evidence of isotopes of an alkaline earth metal in their sample. The metal was detected by the use of an organic barium salt constructed by Wilhelm Traube
Wilhelm Traube
Wilhelm Traube was a German chemist.- Biography :Traube was born at Ratibor in Prussian Silesia, a son of the famous private scholar Moritz Traube....

, a Jewish chemist who was later arrested and murdered despite Hahn's efforts to save him. Finding a group 2 alkaline earth metal was problematic, because it did not logically fit with the other elements found thus far. Hahn initially suspected it to be radium
Radium
Radium is a chemical element with atomic number 88, represented by the symbol Ra. Radium is an almost pure-white alkaline earth metal, but it readily oxidizes on exposure to air, becoming black in color. All isotopes of radium are highly radioactive, with the most stable isotope being radium-226,...

, produced by splitting off two alpha-particles from the uranium nucleus. At the time, the scientific consensus was that even splitting off two alpha particles via this process was unlikely. The idea of turning uranium into barium
Barium
Barium is a chemical element with the symbol Ba and atomic number 56. It is the fifth element in Group 2, a soft silvery metallic alkaline earth metal. Barium is never found in nature in its pure form due to its reactivity with air. Its oxide is historically known as baryta but it reacts with...

 (by removing around 100 nucleons) was seen as preposterous. On 10 November during a visit to Copenhagen, Hahn discussed these results with Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr mentored and collaborated with many of the top physicists of the century at his institute in...

 and Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner FRS was an Austrian-born, later Swedish, physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize...

. Further refinements of the technique, leading to the decisive experiment on 16–17 December 1938 (the celebrated "radium-barium-mesothorium-fractionation"), produced puzzling results: the three isotopes consistently behaved not as radium, but as barium. Hahn described the results in a letter to Meitner on 19 December: "...we are more and more coming to the awful conclusion that our Ra isotopes behave not like Ra, but like Ba. ... Perhaps you can suggest some fantastic explanation. We ourselves realize that it can't really burst into Ba." In her reply, Meitner concurred that bursting of the uranium nucleus was very difficult to accept, but considered it possible.

On 22 December 1938, Hahn sent a manuscript to Naturwissenschaften
Die Naturwissenschaften
Naturwissenschaften is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Springer on behalf of several learned societies.- History :...

reporting their radiochemical results. On 27 December, Hahn telephoned the editor of Naturwissenschaften
Die Naturwissenschaften
Naturwissenschaften is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Springer on behalf of several learned societies.- History :...

and requested to add a paragraph to the article, speculating that some platinum group
Platinum group
The platinum group metals is a term used sometimes to collectively refer to six metallic elements clustered together in the periodic table.These elements are all transition metals, lying in the d-block .The six...

 elements previously observed in irradiated uranium, which were originally interpreted as transuranium elements, could in fact be technetium
Technetium
Technetium is the chemical element with atomic number 43 and symbol Tc. It is the lowest atomic number element without any stable isotopes; every form of it is radioactive. Nearly all technetium is produced synthetically and only minute amounts are found in nature...

 (then called "Masurium") and lower platinum group metals (atomic numbers 43 through 46). By January 1939 he was sufficiently convinced that formation of light elements was occurring in his setup that he published a new revision of the article, essentially retracting former claims of observing transuranic elements and neighbors of uranium, and concluding instead that he was seeing light platinoids, barium, lanthanum
Lanthanum
Lanthanum is a chemical element with the symbol La and atomic number 57.Lanthanum is a silvery white metallic element that belongs to group 3 of the periodic table and is the first element of the lanthanide series. It is found in some rare-earth minerals, usually in combination with cerium and...

, and cerium
Cerium
Cerium is a chemical element with the symbol Ce and atomic number 58. It is a soft, silvery, ductile metal which easily oxidizes in air. Cerium was named after the dwarf planet . Cerium is the most abundant of the rare earth elements, making up about 0.0046% of the Earth's crust by weight...

.

As a chemist, Hahn was reluctant to propose a revolutionary discovery in physics. However, Lise Meitner and her nephew, the young physicist Otto Robert Frisch
Otto Robert Frisch
Otto Robert Frisch , Austrian-British physicist. With his collaborator Rudolf Peierls he designed the first theoretical mechanism for the detonation of an atomic bomb in 1940.- Overview :...

, in Sweden, came to the same conclusion and were able to work out the basic mathematics of nuclear fission
Nuclear fission
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

 - the term that was coined by Frisch, and which subsequently became internationally known. Over the next few months, Meitner and Frisch published two articles discussing and experimentally confirming this hypothesis.

In a later appreciation, Meitner wrote:
"The discovery of nuclear fission by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann opened up a new era in human history. It seems to me that what makes the science behind this discovery so remarkable is that it was achieved by purely chemical means."


In an interview on German television (ARD, 8 March 1959), Meitner said:
"Hahn and Strassmann were able to do this by exceptionally good chemistry, fantastically good chemistry, which was way ahead of what anyone else was capable of at that time. The Americans learned to do it later. But at that time, Hahn and Strassmann were really the only ones who could do it. And that was because they were such good chemists. Somehow they really succeeded in using chemistry to demonstrate and prove a physical process."


Fritz Strassmann
Fritz Strassmann
Friedrich Wilhelm "Fritz" Strassmann was a German chemist who, with Otto Hahn in 1938, identified barium in the residue after bombarding uranium with neutrons, which led to the interpretation of their results as being from nuclear fission...

 responded with this clarification:
"Professor Meitner stated that the success could be attributed to chemistry. I have to make a slight correction. Chemistry merely isolated the individual substances, it did not precisely identify them. It took Professor Hahn's method to do this. This is where his achievement lies."


(Citation sources: Lise Meitner - Recollections of Otto Hahn. Stuttgart 2005).

In their second publication on nuclear fission (Die Naturwissenschaften
Die Naturwissenschaften
Naturwissenschaften is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Springer on behalf of several learned societies.- History :...

, 10 February 1939) Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann predicted the existence and liberation of additional neutrons during the fission process, which was proved to be a chain reaction
Chain reaction
A chain reaction is a sequence of reactions where a reactive product or by-product causes additional reactions to take place. In a chain reaction, positive feedback leads to a self-amplifying chain of events....

 by Frédéric Joliot and his team in March 1939.

During the war, Otto Hahn - together with his assistants Hans-Joachim Born
Hans-Joachim Born
Hans-Joachim Born was a German radiochemist trained and educated at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Chemie. Up to the end of World War II, he worked in Nikolaj Vladimirovich Timofeev-Resovskij’s Abteilung für Experimentelle Genetik, at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Hirnforschung. He was taken...

, Siegfried Flügge
Siegfried Flügge
Siegfried Flügge was a German theoretical physicist and made contributions to nuclear physics. He worked at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Chemie and worked in the German Uranverein...

, Hans Götte, Walter Seelmann-Eggebert
Walter Seelmann-Eggebert
Walter Seelmann-Eggebert was a German radiochemist.He was a student of Otto Hahn at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute where he worked with Lise Meitner or Fritz Strassmann on nuclear fission....

 and Fritz Strassmann
Fritz Strassmann
Friedrich Wilhelm "Fritz" Strassmann was a German chemist who, with Otto Hahn in 1938, identified barium in the residue after bombarding uranium with neutrons, which led to the interpretation of their results as being from nuclear fission...

 - worked on uranium fission reactions. By 1945 he had drawn up a list of 25 elements and about 100 isotopes whose existence he had demonstrated.

Thanks to his determined intervention, Hahn, who had always been an opponent of the Nazi dictatorship, was able to support numerous members of his institute whose lives were in danger or were suffering persecution, and prevent them from being sent to the front line or deported. In this, he was assisted by his courageous wife Edith, who had for years collected food for Jews hiding in Berlin. As early as 1934, Hahn resigned from the University of Berlin to protest the dismissal of Jewish colleagues and those with Jewish ancestry, notably Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner FRS was an Austrian-born, later Swedish, physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize...

, Fritz Haber
Fritz Haber
Fritz Haber was a German chemist, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his development for synthesizing ammonia, important for fertilizers and explosives. Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid...

, and James Franck
James Franck
James Franck was a German Jewish physicist and Nobel laureate.-Biography:Franck was born to Jacob Franck and Rebecca Nachum Drucker. Franck completed his Ph.D...

.

At the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in 1945 Hahn was suspected of working on the German nuclear energy project
German nuclear energy project
The German nuclear energy project, , was an attempted clandestine scientific effort led by Germany to develop and produce the atomic weapons during the events involving the World War II...

 to develop an atomic reactor or an atomic bomb. But his only connection was the discovery of fission; he did not work on the program. In early 1945 Hahn gave himself up to T-Force
T-Force
T-Force was an elite British Army force which operated during the final stages of World War II. Originally used to secure and exploit targets that could provide valuable intelligence of scientific and military value, they were later tasked with seizing Nazi German scientists and businessmen in the...

 members of the 5th King's Regiment, Hahn approaching Private H. Hilton, a member of the intelligence platoon, who had just stopped his vehicle in a town centre, and requested to be taken to the British authorities. Failing to be understood, Hahn then stated; "Perhaps I should introduce myself; I am Professor Hahn, chief scientist for atomic research in Germany". Hilton, not understanding the meaning of this, nevertheless complied with Hahn's request.

Hahn and nine German physicists (including Max von Laue
Max von Laue
Max Theodor Felix von Laue was a German physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914 for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals...

, Werner Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory...

 and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
Carl Friedrich Freiherr von Weizsäcker was a German physicist and philosopher. He was the longest-living member of the research team which performed nuclear research in Germany during the Second World War, under Werner Heisenberg's leadership...

) were interned at Farm Hall, Godmanchester
Godmanchester
Godmanchester is a small town and civil parish within the Huntingdonshire district of Cambridgeshire, in England. It lies on the south bank of the River Great Ouse, south of the larger town of Huntingdon, and on the A14 road....

, near Cambridge, England from 3 July 1945 to 3 January 1946. While they were there, the German scientists learned of the dropping of the American atom bombs on Hiroshima
Hiroshima
is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It became best known as the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on it at 8:15 A.M...

 and Nagasaki on 6 August and 9 August 1945. Hahn was on the brink of despair, as he felt that because he had discovered nuclear fission he shared responsibility for the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of Japanese people. Early in January 1946, the group was allowed to return to Germany.

Nobel Prize


On 15 November 1945 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...

 announced that Hahn had been awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his discovery of the fission of heavy atomic nuclei." Some historians have documented the history of the discovery of nuclear fission and believe Meitner should have been awarded the Nobel Prize with Hahn. Hahn was still being detained at Farm Hall when the announcement was made; thus, his whereabouts were a secret and it was impossible for the Nobel committee to send him a congratulatory telegram. Instead, he learned about his award through the Daily Telegraph newspaper His fellow interned German scientists celebrated his award on 18 November by giving speeches, making jokes, and composing songs. On 4 December, Hahn was persuaded by two of his captors to write a letter to the Nobel committee accepting the prize but also stating that he would not be able to attend the award ceremony. He could not participate in the Nobel festivities on 10 December since his captors would not allow him to leave Farm Hall.

"There is no doubt at all that Hahn fully deserves the Nobel Prize in Chemistry" wrote Lise Meitner to her friend Eva von Bahr-Bergius in November 1945. Meitner's former assistant Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker later added: "He certainly did deserve this Nobel Prize. He would have deserved it even if he had not made this discovery. But everyone recognized that the splitting of the atomic nucleus merited a Nobel Prize."

Hahn attended the Nobel festivities the year after he was awarded the prize. On 10 December 1946, King Gustav V of Sweden finally presented him with his Nobel Prize medal and diploma.

Max Planck Society


From 1948 to 1960 Otto Hahn was the founding President of the newly formed Max Planck Society
Max Planck Society
The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes publicly funded by the federal and the 16 state governments of Germany....

 for the Advancement of Science, which through his tireless activity and his worldwide respected personality succeeded in regaining the renown once enjoyed by the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. Immediately after the Second World War, Hahn reacted to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by coming out strongly against the use of nuclear energy for military purposes. He saw the application of his scientific discoveries to such ends as a misuse, or even a crime. Consequently, among other things, he initiated the Mainau Declaration
Mainau Declaration
The Mainau Declaration was an appeal against the use of nuclear weapons. Drafted by German scientists Otto Hahn and Max Born, it was circulated at a conference of Nobel Prize laureates in Lindau, Germany on July 15, 1955...

 of 1955, in which a large number of Nobel Prize-winners called attention to the dangers of atomic weapons and warned the nations of the world urgently against the use of "force as a final resort". He was also instrumental and one of the authors of the Göttingen Manifesto
Göttinger Manifest
The Göttingen Manifesto was a declaration of 18 leading nuclear scientists of West Germany against arming the West German army with tactical nuclear weapons in the 1950s, the early part of the Cold War, as the West German government under chancellor Adenauer had suggested.-Historical situation:In...

 of 1957, in which, together with 17 leading German atomic scientists, he protested against a proposed nuclear arming of the new West German armed forces (Bundeswehr). In January 1958, Otto Hahn signed the Pauling Appeal to the United Nations
Peace movement
A peace movement is a social movement that seeks to achieve ideals such as the ending of a particular war , minimize inter-human violence in a particular place or type of situation, often linked to the goal of achieving world peace...

 for the "immediate conclusion of an international agreement to stop the testing of nuclear weapons", and in October he signed the international Agreement to call a meeting to draw up a world constitution. Right up to his death, he never tired of warning urgently of the dangers of the nuclear arms race
Nuclear arms race
The nuclear arms race was a competition for supremacy in nuclear warfare between the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies during the Cold War...

 between the great powers and of the radioactive contamination of the planet. From 1957, Hahn was repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 by a number of organizations, including the largest French trade union, the Confederation Generale du Travail
Confédération générale du travail
The General Confederation of Labour is a national trade union center, the first of the five major French confederations of trade unions.It is the largest in terms of votes , and second largest in terms of membership numbers.Its membership decreased to 650,000 members in 1995-96 The General...

. Linus Pauling
Linus Pauling
Linus Carl Pauling was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, and educator. He was one of the most influential chemists in history and ranks among the most important scientists of the 20th century...

, the 1962 Nobel Peace laureate, once described Otto Hahn as "an inspiration to me."

Honours and awards


Hahn received many governmental honours and academic awards from all over the world. He was elected member or honorary member in 45 Academies and scientific societies (among them the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 in London and the Academies in Allahabad (India), Bangalore (India), Boston (USA), Bucharest, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna) and received 37 of the highest national and international orders and medals (among them the Golden Paracelsus
Paracelsus
Paracelsus was a German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist....

 Medal from the Swiss Chemical Society and the Faraday Medal
Faraday Medal
The Faraday Medal is a medal awarded by the Institution of Electrical Engineers The bronze medal is awarded without restriction as regards nationality, country of...

 from the British Chemical Society). In 1959 President Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 of France made him an Officer of the Légion d'Honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

, he was made a knight of the Peace Class of the Order Pour le Mérite
Pour le Mérite
The Pour le Mérite, known informally as the Blue Max , was the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order for German soldiers until the end of World War I....

, received the Distinguished Service Order and the Grand Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1961 Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
-Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

 awarded him the Gold Medal of the Papal Academy. (In 1957 Hahn was elected an honorary citizen of the city of Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

, German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

, and in 1958 an honorary member of the Soviet Academy of Science in Moscow. He declined both honours).

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 of the USA, and the USA Atomic Energy Commission
United States Atomic Energy Commission
The United States Atomic Energy Commission was an agency of the United States government established after World War II by Congress to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S...

 awarded Hahn (together with Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassmann) the Enrico Fermi Prize. This was the only time the Fermi Prize has been awarded to non-Americans.

Hahn was made an honorary citizen of the cities of Frankfurt am Main and Göttingen
Göttingen
Göttingen is a university town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Göttingen. The Leine river runs through the town. In 2006 the population was 129,686.-General information:...

, and of the land and the city of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. The day after his death, the Max Planck Society
Max Planck Society
The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes publicly funded by the federal and the 16 state governments of Germany....

 published the following obituary notice in all the major newspapers:
"On 28 July, in his 90th year, our Honorary President Otto Hahn passed away. His name will be recorded in the history of humanity as the founder of the atomic age. In him Germany and the world have lost a scholar who was distinguished in equal measure by his integrity and personal humility. The Max Planck Society mourns its founder, who continued the tasks and traditions of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society after the war, and mourns also a good and much loved human being, who will live in the memories of all who had the chance to meet him. His work will continue. We remember him with deep gratitude and admiration."

Legacy


Proposals were made at different times, first in 1971 by American chemists, that the newly syntheticized element no. 105 should be named Hahnium in Hahn's honour, although in 1997 the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) finally named it Dubnium
Dubnium
The Soviet team proposed the name nielsbohrium in honor of the Danish nuclear physicist Niels Bohr. The American team proposed that the new element should be named hahnium , in honor of the late German chemist Otto Hahn...

, after the Russian research center in Dubna (see element naming controversy
Element naming controversy
The names for the chemical elements 104 to 106 were the subject of a major controversy starting in the 1960s, described by some nuclear chemists as the Transfermium Wars because it concerned the elements following fermium on the periodic table....

). Although element 108 was given the name Hassium
Hassium
Hassium is a synthetic element with the symbol Hs and atomic number 108. It is the heaviest member of the group 8 elements. The element was first observed in 1984...

 by its officially-recognised German discoverers in 1992, a 1994 IUPAC committee recommended that it be named Hahnium (Hn), in spite of the long-standing convention to give the discoverer the right to suggest a name. This recommendation was not adopted, following protests from the German discoverers, and the name Hassium (Hs) was adopted internationally in 1997.

In 1964 the only European and one of the world's four nuclear-powered civilian ships, the freighter NS Otto Hahn
Otto Hahn (ship)
Otto Hahn was one of only four nuclear-powered cargo vessels so far built. Planning of a German-built trade and research vessel to test the feasibility of nuclear power in civil service began in 1960, and Otto Hahns keel was laid down in 1963 by Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft AG of Kiel...

, was named in his honour. In 1959 there were the opening ceremonies of the "Otto Hahn Institute" in Mainz and the "Hahn Meitner Institute for Nuclear Research (HMI)" in Berlin. There are craters on Mars and the Moon, and the asteroids No. 3676 ("Hahn") and No. 19126 ("Ottohahn") named in his honour, as well as the "Otto Hahn Prize" of both the German Chemical and Physical Societies, the Otto Hahn Medal
Otto Hahn Medal
The Otto Hahn Medal is awarded by the Max Planck Society to young scientists and researchers in both the natural and social sciences. The prestigious award takes its name from the German chemist and Nobel Prize laureate Otto Hahn, who served as the first president of the Max Planck Society from...

 of the Max Planck Society and the "Otto Hahn Peace Medal
Otto Hahn Peace Medal
The Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold is named after the German nuclear chemist and 1944 Nobel Laureate Otto Hahn, an honorary citizen of Berlin....

 in Gold" of the United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN) in Berlin.

A great many cities and districts in the German speaking countries have named secondary schools of all types after him, and countless streets, squares and bridges throughout Europe bear his name. Several states have honoured Otto Hahn by issuing coins, medals and stamps (among them the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic, Austria, Romania, Moldova, Angola, Cuba, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Madagascar, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Chad, Ghana, Somalia, Guinea and Bissau). An island in the Antarctic (near Mt. Discovery) was also named after him, as were two Intercity trains of the German Federal Railways in 1971, running between Hamburg and Basel SBB, and the "Otto Hahn Library" in Göttingen. In 1974, in appreciation of the special contribution of Otto Hahn to German-Israeli relations, a wing of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, was given the name "Otto Hahn Wing", and a scientific research center of the St. Louis University in Baguio (Philippines) was named the "Otto Hahn Building". In several cities and districts busts, monuments and memorial plaques were unveiled, including Albstadt-Tailfingen, Berlin (East and West), Boston (USA), Frankfurt am Main, Göttingen, Gundersheim, Mainz, Marburg, Munich (in the hall of honour in the Deutsches Museum), Rehovoth (Israel), San Vigilio (Lake Garda, Italy), Springe and Vienna (in the foyer of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA). A special honour in 1997 was conferred on Hahn in the Netherlands: after an azalea already bore his name (Rhododendron luteum
Rhododendron luteum
Rhododendron luteum, Yellow Azalea or Honeysuckle Azalea is a species of Rhododendron native to southeastern Europe and southwest Asia. In Europe, it occurs from southern Poland and Austria south through the Balkans and east to southern Russia, and in Asia, east to the Caucasus.It is a shrub...

var Otto Hahn), Dutch rose growers named a new variety of rose "Otto Hahn". Since several years a coffee-shop and restaurant in the city center of Rotterdam bears the name "Otto Hahn Café".

At the end of 1999 the German newsmagazine FOCUS
Focus (German magazine)
Focus is a German weekly news magazine published in Munich and distributed throughout Germany. It is the third-largest weekly news magazine in Germany. It is considered conservative and leaned towards economic liberalism.- Overview :...

 published an inquiry of 500 leading natural scientists, engineers and physicians about the most important scientists of the 20th century. In this poll the experimental chemist Otto Hahn - after the theoretical physicists Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 and Max Planck
Max Planck
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS, was a German physicist who actualized the quantum physics, initiating a revolution in natural science and philosophy. He is regarded as the founder of the quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.-Life and career:Planck came...

 - was elected third (with 81 points) and thus the most significant empiric researcher of his time. (FOCUS, No. 52, 1999, p. 103-108).

Publications

  • 1936. Applied Radiochemistry. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York 1936. Humphrey Milford, London 1936. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1936.
  • 1950. New Atoms - Progress and some memories. Edited by W. Gaade. Elsevier Inc., New York-Amsterdam-London-Brussels.
  • 1966. A Scientific Autobiography. Introduction by Glenn T. Seaborg
    Glenn T. Seaborg
    Glenn Theodore Seaborg was an American scientist who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements", contributed to the discovery and isolation of ten elements, and developed the actinide concept, which led to the current arrangement of the...

    . Translated and edited by Willy Ley. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. British edition: McGibbon and Kee, London 1967.
  • 1970. My Life. Preface by Sir James Chadwick
    James Chadwick
    Sir James Chadwick CH FRS was an English Nobel laureate in physics awarded for his discovery of the neutron....

    . Translated by Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins. Macdonald & Co., London. American edition: Herder and Herder, New York 1970.

See also

  • Hahn Meitner Institute (HMI), Berlin
  • Otto Hahn Prize
  • Otto Hahn Medal
    Otto Hahn Medal
    The Otto Hahn Medal is awarded by the Max Planck Society to young scientists and researchers in both the natural and social sciences. The prestigious award takes its name from the German chemist and Nobel Prize laureate Otto Hahn, who served as the first president of the Max Planck Society from...

  • Otto Hahn Peace Medal
    Otto Hahn Peace Medal
    The Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold is named after the German nuclear chemist and 1944 Nobel Laureate Otto Hahn, an honorary citizen of Berlin....

  • German inventors and discoverers
    German inventors and discoverers
    This is a list of German inventors and discoverers. The following list comprises people from Germany or German-speaking Europe, also of people of predominantly German heritage, in alphabetical order of the surname. The main section includes existing articles, indicated by blue links, and possibly...

  • Fajans-Paneth-Hahn Law
    Fajans-Paneth-Hahn Law
    The Fajans-Paneth-Hahn Law , in chemistry, is a rule governing how a small amount of one substance is carried down to a precipitate of another substance present in much larger amount by co-precipitation or adsorption.The rule...


External links