Topics Otto Hahn Quotations
Otto Hahn was a German chemist and received the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is considered a pioneer of radioactivity and radiochemistry.
- Gewönlich wird eine Entdeckung nicht auf den einfachsten, sondern auf einem komplizierten Wege gemacht; die einfachen Fälle zeigen sich erst später.
- Usually, a discovery is not made in the easiest but on a complicated way; the simple cases show up only later.
- As quoted in
- Usually, a discovery is not made in the easiest but on a complicated way; the simple cases show up only later.
Quotations about Hahn
- "Hahn is a capital fellow, and has done his work admirably. I am sure that you would enjoy having him to work with you." (Prof. Dr. Sir William Ramsay, London, to Prof. Dr. Ernest Rutherford, Montreal, 1905).
- "He is a pleasant fellow, unassuming, completely trustworthy and highly talented - and I have come to like him very much. I can strongly recommend him as one of the best workers I know." (Prof. Dr. Sir William Ramsay, London, to Prof. Dr. Emil Fischer, Berlin, 1905).
- "Hahn has a special nose for discovering new elements." (Prof. Dr. Ernest Rutherford, Montreal, 1906).
- variant: "Hahn has a special smell for discovering new elements" as quoted by
- "He is doing the best work in Germany at present." (Prof. Dr. Ernest Rutherford, Manchester, 1910).
- "Dr. Hahn is not reliable of speech, when speaking of himself. He says he is not learned, not distinguished, not famous as a scientist. He sacrifices truth to modesty - and I sympathize with him in his temptation." (Dr. Ronald E. Knowles, Toronto, 1933).
- "Your discovery has caused a huge sensation in the whole scientific world, and every laboratory which has the necessary means is now working on the consequences of your discovery." (Prof. Dr. Rudolf Ladenburg, Princeton, February 22nd, 1939).
- "It must certainly be a great joy for you and Strassmann that you have made the whole world of physics excited. That is really wonderful!" (Prof. Dr. Lise Meitner, Stockholm, to Otto Hahn, February 24th, 1939).
- "Otto Hahn's humane and scientific personality is an indivisible whole. A very lively intellectual intuition, a very sound ability, an exceptional and critical ability for observation, an unshakeable dependability and doggedness next to great inner modesty and natural kindness mark the man as they do his work." (Prof. Dr. Lise Meitner, Stockholm, 1939).
- "A man of the world. He has been the most helpful of the professors and his sense of humour and common sense has saved the day on many occasions. He is definitely friendly disposed to England and America." (Major Terence H. Rittner, Farmhall near Cambridge, summer 1945).
- "Never has a Nobelprize-winner been in the outward sense so absent at a Nobel festival as Professor Hahn. And I suppose, too, that no Nobelprize-winner has ever, through the consequences of his discoveries, been so intensely present to our consciousness. Alfred Nobel hoped that in dynamite he had discovered such a powerful explosive that future wars would be impossible. The hope was not fulfilled; but dynamite is used today mostly for peaceful purposes. May we venture to hope the same of atomic energy? Hahn's discovery of the cleavage of atoms is the crowning feat, so far, in a series of discoveries for which Nobelprizes have been awarded. We acclaim today this celebrated researcher's scientific achievements." (Prof. Dr. Axel Hugo Theorell at the Nobelprize ceremony, Stockholm, December 10th, 1945).
- "No living man has so successfully spanned the world of discovery from radiothorium to fission, one of the greatest - if not the greatest - discovery of all times." (Prof. Dr. Samuel C. Lind, Minneapolis, 1951).
- "With his humour and his sound humanity Otto Hahn quickly gained ground at the Geneva Conference to which we other members of the German delegation became very indebted. We even went to the official Soviet reception, at which we were also able to bask in Hahn's fame. This visit took place against resistance from the Foreign Office, for the Federal Republic of Germany had no diplomatic relations with Moscow." (Prof. Dr. Karl Winnacker, Bonn, 1955).
- "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." (Prof. Dr. Lise Meitner, Stockholm, 1955).
- "The significance accorded to the outcome from the scientific point of view becomes clear when one reads in the first publication of nuclear fission that Professor Hahn, who had over thirty years of practical and theoretical experience in the sphere of radioactivity and whose judgement unquestionably commanded the greatest weight among fellow scientists both in Germany and the whole world, announced the new discovery only hesitatingly. The radiochemical methods he applied, which were partly developed by him, tested out hundreds of times in the course of thirty years, and found to be reliable, did not permit any doubt about the finding." (Prof. Dr. Fritz Strassmann, Mainz, 1956).
- "Otto Hahn is a figure of world history. But he possesses none of the attributes of the traditional luminaries in history books. His slight, somewhat bowed figure, which with its high brow has the effect of his features having been carved, with his expression of searching honesty and critical inviolability, have something of a boundless nobility about them." (The Observer, London, June 9th, 1957).
- "Hahn is an old wally who can not hold back his tears or sleep at night if he thinks of Hiroshima." (Franz Josef Strauss, German Minister of Defence, Bonn, 1957).
- "His father city Frankfurt am Main thus honours a scholar of worldwide fame, who, as a result of his trail-blazing discoveries in the sphere of atomic research, radioactivity and radiochemistry, enjoys a surpassing reputation in the world. The city at the same time stresses its bonds with a personality of exceptional talent and creative energy, whose scientific and administrative work serve progress and the well-being of the whole of humanity." (The attestation of honorary citizenship in the diploma of the City of Frankfurt am Main, 1959).
- "Hahn and Strassmann were able to discover nuclear fission by exceptionally good chemistry, fantastically good chemistry, which was way ahead of what anyone else was capable of at that time. The Americans learned it to do later. But at that time, in 1938, Hahn and Strassmann were really the only ones who could do it, because they were such good chemists." (Prof. Dr. Lise Meitner in an interview with the German television, ARD, March 8, 1959).
- "Professor Meitner stated that nuclear fission could be attributed to chemistry. I have to make a slight correction. Chemistry merely isolated the individual substances, but did not precisely identify them. It took Professor Hahn's method to do this. This was his achievement." (Prof. Dr. Fritz Strassmann in the same interview with the German television, ARD, March 8, 1959).
- "Otto Hahn was also in Geneva. He was small and quiet, with a retiring manner. Little tufts of thin white hair framed his face, and there was often a bewildered expression in his blue eyes, as if he were still astonished at the great things that had come from his discovery of fission." (Dr. Laura Fermi, widow of Prof. Dr. Enrico Fermi, Chicago, 1961).
- "I must emphasise, that this proof of fission with such a low presence of the identifying preparation was in actuality a masterpiece of radiochemistry, in which at that time hardly anybody else other than Otto Hahn and Strassmann would have been able to succeed." (Prof. Dr. Lise Meitner, Cambridge, 1963).
- "Can one, may one, hold the researcher responsible for the consequences of his work? Everyone who knew Otto Hahn knew with what unsparing clarity he had put this question to himself. We admire him, who as a researcher in his work, just as much as a man in his thought and deed, was ever a model of uprightness and conscientiousness, and even more so by the questions and answers he raised and gave by virtue of his personal conduct." (Prof. Dr. Max Steenbeck, Berlin, 1964).
- "It has been given to very few men to make contributions to science and to humanity of the magnitude of those made by Otto Hahn. He has made those contributions over a span of nearly two generations, beginning with a key role in the earliest days of radiochemistry in investigating and unraveling the complexities of the natural radioactivities and culminating with his tremendous discovery of the nuclear fission of uranium. I believe that it is fair to refer to Otto Hahn as the father of radiochemistry and of its more recent offspring, nuclear chemistry. For his special genius the world of science will be forever grateful." (Prof. Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg, President of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, Washington, 1966).
- "In postwar Germany, Otto Hahn became the most revered elder statesman of what had once been Europe's proudest scientific establishment. He collected many awards, including a Nobelprize in Chemistry for his discovery of fission. But he always accepted such honours with characteristic humility. Visiting an atomic reactor or nuclear power station, he would shrug modestly: 'It has all been the work of others.' In a soon-to-be-published 300-page memoir, he brushed off his historic workin fewer than five pages. Last week, at he age of 89, the father of fission died peacefully in his beloved Göttingen." (TIME Magazine, New York, August 9th, 1968).
- "There are occurrences far removed from social and political events, let alone any sensation, and without relation to the course of history - and yet their taking place leads the world, deeply moved, to hold its breath for a moment, and people, far and wide, to halt for a moment of reflection amid the rush of the everyday: Otto Hahn, almost 90 years old, has left the world. A good, a simple man has entered his name in both the history of the natural sciences and the history of humanity. As long as intellect and character, scholarship and humanity maintain their value, Otto Hahn will be of relevance to the coming generations." (Prof. Dr. Walther Gerlach, Munich, 1968).
- "Hahn remained modest and informal all his life. His disarming frankness, unfailing kindness, good common sense and impish humour will be remembered by his many friends all over the world." (Prof. Dr. Otto Robert Frisch, Cambridge, 1968).
- "The number of those who had been able to be near Otto Hahn is small. His behaviour was completely natural to him, but for the next generations he will serve as a model, regardless of whether one admires in the attitude of Otto Hahn his humane and scientific sense of responsibility or his personal courage." (Prof. Dr. Fritz Strassmann, Mainz, 1968).
- "Otto Hahn's achievements are known universally and will hold a special place in the history of science. He is remembered too for his whole character, his generosity of spirit, his belief in the proper use of scientific discovery and for his humanity." (The Royal Society, London, 1970).
- "He had an honesty and integrity which commanded the respect and trust of all." (Prof. Dr. Sir James Chadwick, Cambridge, 1970).
- "It was remarkable, how, after the war, this rather unassuming scientist who had spent a lifetime in the laboratory, became an effective administrator and an important public figure in Germany. Hahn, famous as the discoverer of nuclear fission, was respected and trusted for his human qualities, simplicity of manner, transparent honesty, common sense and loyalty." (Prof. Dr. Robert Spence, London, 1970).
- "I often thought, that he would have deserved a second Nobelprize - the Nobelprize for peace." (Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Rona, Miami, 1978).
- "He was one of my models." (Prof. Dr. Linus Pauling, Pasadena, at the Nobel conference in Lindau, Bavaria, 1981).
- "Otto Hahn is widely portrayed as a warm, considerate, charming person. The characterization is accurate. In fact, precisely because the personality of this decent human being suffered no great changes throughout his career, he offers us a touchstone to determined the extent of changes in scientists' perceptions of their obligations to society during the twentieth century. The important thing is not that scientists may disagree on where their responsibility to society lies, but that they are conscious that a responsibility exists, are vocal about it, and when they speak out they expect to affect policy. Otto Hahn, it would seem, was even more than just an example of this twentieth-century conceptual evolution; he was a leader in the process." (Prof. Dr. Lawrence Badash, Santa Barbara, California, 1983).
- "The discovery by Otto Hahn that the uranium nucleus could be split marks, on the one hand, the culmination of one of the most fascinating periods in the history of physics and, on the other, heralds the advent of a new age in Man's understanding and mastery of nature." (Prof. Dr. William R. Shea, Montreal, 1983).
- "Ever since my early youth, I have admired Otto Hahn as a scientist and a human being. The reason for Hahn's peace work was simply that, knowing more than other citizens about atomic weapons, he felt it his duty to speak about this issue that was so crucial for mankind. He could make things clear, he had to use his knowledge. And it is why Otto Hahn, with atomic weapons in mind, wrote shortly before his death of 'the necessity of world peace'." (Prof. Dr. Sir Karl R. Popper, Kenley near London, 1993).
- "Thanks to his moral integrity Otto Hahn was trusted everywhere. He used it to point uncompromisingly to three important goals. For him the cessation of nuclear weapon tests, not transferring atomic weapons in order not to let the number of atomic powers become larger, and general disarmament were the essential challenges. Hahn occasionally emphasised that he was not a politician. Yet his speeches, appeals, warnings, and his appearance in public betrayed a purposeful political engagement. His distinctively humanitarian convictions directed him logically to this path. - As we must conclude, Otto Hahn is not to be held personally responsible for the consequences of his discovery, but he suffered from them and because of the constantly smouldering conflicts of conscience became a tireless watchman for the world of a life worth living, at peace, without anxiety caused by the atom. His engagement with science, humanity and peace is exemplary and to be remembered for following generations." (Dr. Klaus Hoffmann, Dresden, author of 'Otto Hahn - Achievement and Responsibility', New York etc. 2001).
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