A remarkable docudrama by NOVA about Albert Einstein and his ‘annus mirabilis’ of 1905 and the insights which led to E = mc2. But don’t miss the story of Lise Meitner, Otto Hahn and the first splitting of the Uranium atom (ie: nuclear fission) in 1938. After that discovery, any competent physicist could see the huge implications. It was this that triggered the famous letter to Franklin Roosevelt and the “Manhattan Project” which produced the world’s first atomic bombs.
Dr. Meitner was an Austrian Jew and was able to get out of Germany (to Holland and later Sweden) in time to avoid internment. Einstein (also a Jew) had left ‘Der Fätherland’ in 1933 soon after Hitler had assumed the Chancellorship.
What Germany realised too late was that it was those very JEWISH chemists and physicists whom the Nazis had hounded out of Europe who later provided much of the fundamental knowledge which helped America and the Allies win WWII so decisively in 1945.
Lise Meitner was not awarded the 1944 Nobel Prise for Chemistry along with Hahn, though she had clearly merited the honour. Such was the fate of female scientists in those days. They were rarely taken seriously. But Meitner accepted the slight with remarkably good grace:
“Surely Hahn fully deserved the Nobel Prize in chemistry. There is really no doubt about it. But I believe that Otto Robert Frisch and I contributed something not insignificant to the clarification of the process of uranium fission – how it originates and that it produces so much energy, and that was something very remote from Hahn. For this reason I find it a bit unjust that in newspapers I was called a Mitarbeiterin [co-worker] of Hahn’s in the same sense that Strassman was.” — Prof. Dr. Lise Meitner
source: Wikipedia: Otto Hahn
Very much worth your time IMHO.
Narrated by John Lithgow. In addition to Albert Einstein we meet:
Michael Faraday and James Maxwell
Antoine de Lavoisier and Mme. Lavoisier
Émilie du Châtelet
Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner
All of whom contributed to the ideas that culminated with Einstein…