World’s Super Scientists – Hahn Otto

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Ninety years in nuclear physics – Hahn Otto

Scientist Hahn Otto (1879 to 1968), a German scientist, discoverer of nuclear fission, an experimentalist in nuclear physics was awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944.

Scientist Hahn Otto was born on March 8, 1879, obtained Doctorate in 1901. In 1904 he went to London to work with Sir William Ramsay who was interested in radioactivity. He returned to Germany in 1906.

During the World War I (1913-15) he was a Chemical Warfare specialist; this gave him an opportunity for the application of radioactive methods to chemical problems.

In 1934 Scientist Hahn Otto got keenly interested in the work of the Italian Physicist Enrico Fermi, the basis of whose theory was: When uranium is bombarded by neutrons, several radioactive products are formed. Fermi did work on the above project.

Scientist Hahn Otto Discovery of Nuclear Fission

One of the products from uranium, a radioactive form of the much lighter element barium, indicating that the uranium atom had split into two lighter atoms.
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The principle behind this led to the explosion of atomic bomb in Hiroshima in 1945. Hahn was aged 66 at that time, still a vigorous person, mountaineer who maintained physical fitness.

Scientist Hahn Otto arrived at a new radioactive substance, named by him as radiothorium which emanated from a crude radium preparation given to him by Ramsay.

On return to Germany he was elected President of the former Kaiser Wilhelm Society, renamed the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science.

Scientist Hahn Otto was the head of the Department of radio-chemistry at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Chemistry in Berlin. Lise Meitner, an Austrian physicist was his trusted colleague.

After World War I, Scientist Hahn Otto and his colleague, Miss Meitner announced the discovery of a new radioactive element, protactinum.

Scientist Hahn Otto campaigned against further development and testing of nuclear weapons.

“God, for his own inscrutable ends, made everyone blind to the phenomenon of atomic fission”.

An assistant of Fermi

In 1966 Scientist Hahn Otto and his colleagues, Meitner and Strassmann shared the prestigious Enrico Fermi Award.

Scientist Hahn Otto died on July 28, 1968 after nearly ninety years of fruitful life.

Hard work is the name of the game for this scientist.
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