Otto Hahn: Biography

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Otto Hahn is best known for discovering nuclear fission along with Fritz Strassmann in 1938. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Hahn was born at Frankfurt am Main, on 8th March, 1879. He attended secondary high school in that town until he graduated and moved on-to college. From 1897 Hahn studied chemistry at Marburg and Munich. He took his doctorate examination in 1901 at Marburg, as well as submitted a thesis on organic chemistry to Professor Theodor Zincke. He accquired a post as assistant in the Chemical Institute at Marburg, staying there for two years. Afterwards, at University College, London, he worked under Sir William Ramsay, from the autumn of 1904 to the following summer of 1905. He was rewarded for his work there with the discovery of a new radioactive substance, radiothorium, while working on the preparation of pure radium salts. Radiothorium is a radioactive substance formed as one of series of products in the chain of radioactive decay of thorium. From post 1904 to pre 1905, Hahn then worked under Professor Ernest Rutherford at Physical Institute of McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Here he discovered radioactinium, which is the radioactive isotope of thorium that has a mass number 227 and a half-life of 18.8 days, its symbol is RdAc. He conducted investigations with Rutherford on alpha-rays of radiothorium and radioactinium. When Hahn returned to Europe, he moved to the Chemical Institute of the University in Berlin. There, during the spring of 1907, he became qualified as a university lecturer. Hahn also happened to discover mesothorium during the year of 1907. At the end of 1907, Dr. Lise Meitner came to Berlin from Vienna. Then they began more than thirty years of collaboration. Their joint work involved investigations on beta-rays, their absorbability, magnetic spectra, and things such as the use of the radioactive recoil, which was discovered shortly before by Hahn, to get new radioactive transformation products. Hahn's work...
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