HAHN, OTTO

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HAHN, OTTO - Colorful Postcard of a Floral Wreath Autographed by Otto Hahn
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HAHN, OTTO - Colorful Postcard of a Floral Wreath Autographed by Otto Hahn

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HAHN, OTTO. (1879-1968). German chemist and physicist; co-discoverer (with Lise Meitner) of protactinium. Awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1944 for his work on nuclear fission. Signed card. (“Otto Hahn”). 1p. 12mo. Gottingen, N.d. In German. A printed card illustrated with a colorful floral wreath underneath which Hahn has added his signature and “Gottingen” in blue ink.

 

After working under Sir William Ramsay at London’s University College, Hahn first became interested in radioactivity and, in 1912, he was appointed head of the department of radioactivity at Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry, where a young Austrian physicist named Lise Meitner soon joined him. Their investigations into the application of radioactive methods to chemistry during the next few years were followed, in the early 1930s, by Enrico Fermi’s announcement that he had obtained radioactive materials through the neutron bombardment of uranium 235. It was only after much additional research that Hahn and his collaborators discovered “that one of the products from uranium was a radioactive form of the much lighter element barium, indicating that the uranium atom had split into two lighter atoms. Hahn sent an account of the work to… Meitner who, in cooperation with her nephew Otto Frisch, formulated a plausible explanation of the process, to which they gave the name nuclear fission,” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

 

The potential of creating a chain reaction from this process held great significance, particularly for weapons development. During the Second World War, it was believed that Germany would try to develop a devastating bomb, but Hahn did not participate in this effort. Nonetheless, in 1945 he and several other German physicists and chemists were held for questioning by Allied troops and taken to England where he was detained until January 1946, and where he learned in November 1945 that he had been awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize for chemistry.

 

It was also in England that “to his profound dismay, he learned of the military application of his discovery when nuclear weapons were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” (DSB). Thereafter he was a vocal opponent of nuclear armaments and collaborated with other Nobel laureates to draft the “Mainau Declaration,” cautioning against the abuses of atomic energy and protesting Germany’s acquisition of nuclear arms.

 

In mint condition.

 

Item #18061  


This autograph will be auctioned live on May 23, 2018. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
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