Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner's Call to Science

Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner's Call to Science
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Release Date
January 18, 2022
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From the acclaimed author of Finding Wonders and Grasping Mysteries comes a gorgeously written biography in verse about the pioneering Jewish woman physicist whose scientific prowess changed the course of World War II.

At the turn of the 20th century, Lise Meitner dreamed of becoming a scientist. In her time, girls were not supposed to want careers, much less ones in science. But Lise was smart—and determined. She earned a PhD in physics, then became the first woman physics professor at the University of Berlin. The work was thrilling, but Nazi Germany was a dangerous place for a Jewish woman. When the risks grew too great, Lise escaped to Sweden, where she continued the experiments that she and her laboratory partner had worked on for years. Her efforts led to the discovery of nuclear fission and altered the course of history.

Only Lise’s partner, a man, received the Nobel Prize for their findings, but this moving and accessible biography shows how Lise’s legacy endures.

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Ground Breaking Scientist
(Updated: June 03, 2022)
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Born in 1878 in Austria, Meitner faced a lot of obstacles in her quest to obtain an education. Always of a scientific bent, she had a supportive family that allowed her to study. She got a doctorate in physics and was lucky enough to be mentored by Max Planck. He had also worked with Albert Einstein, and Lise got to know his children as well. When she finally got to a place where her expertise and knowledge was valued despite the fact that she was a woman, Hitler was coming to power. Since Meitner was Jewish, she found it increasingly hard to work. Not believing that she was in real danger, despite the fact that many other Jewish scientists were leaving, she stayed much longer than was safe. It took the combined efforts of many fellow scientists to get her to safety. She continued to work, but even though she solved a crucial part of coworker Otto Hahn's experiments that solved the mystery of splitting the atom, he took credit for the discovery. She was horrified that her work was used for the atomic bomb. She eventually came to the US to teach and was often asked about her views of the Holocaust.
Good Points
Meitner's biography is a very interesting biography one, and her groundbreaking work as a scientist paved the way for other women in the field. This book is in free verse, and concentrates more on her personal life and dealing with family than Moss' The Woman Who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meitner. There is still good information about her life as it was affected by the historic times in which she lived as well, but this would be a bit challenging to use for research, because of the format.

There are a few biographies and autobiographies in verse, such as Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming, Zoboi's Star Child: : a biographical constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler, and Borden's Ski soldier : a World War II biography. Atkins herself also published Borrowed Names : Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters in 2010. Readers who like to read biographies for pleasure, rather than for a school report, will enjoy the slice-of-life quality and lyrical language of Hidden Powers.
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