HD: 1939 Words
Posted: 01 November 2011 03:47 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The latest batch.

(I’ve been a bit slow due to mid-semester grades, paper-writing, etc. But getting back on track now.)

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Posted: 02 November 2011 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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inter-war, adj. Obviously there was no term to distinguish the period between the world wars until the second one had started.

“Obviously” is a bit strong.  The term Second World War, after all, long predates the actual war.  Anyone who foresaw the coming hostilities (which was a lot of people) could easily have talked about “this inter-war period”; it may well be that no one did, but it’s hardly a foregone conclusion.

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Posted: 02 November 2011 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Blitz is often now heard on cookery programmes as in “blitz it up” meaning mix well, and usually associated with food processors and the like.

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Posted: 03 November 2011 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I enjoy your timelines no less than the words themselves, Dave. I like the way in which (mimicking human history) you record fun (students at Harvard swallowing goldfish, the New York World’s Fair, Batman) and horror (Strange Fruit, the triumph of Franco, WW2), side by side.

Your mention of Otto Hahn’s paper on nuclear fission inevitably brings to mind Hahn’s associate, Lise Meitner, a woman of such colossal intellectual stature that (like Marie Curie) she was able to overcome male supremacism, and take her place among the great physical scientists of her day. When you get to 1944, mark it as the year Hahn got the Nobel Prize, and Meitner should have and didn’t.  In the end it was racial hatred, not male chauvinism, that kept Meitner from her just deserts.

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Posted: 03 November 2011 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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In the end it was racial hatred, not male chauvinism, that kept Meitner from her just deserts.

How do you know?  Did they make a public statement about why they were ignoring her?

Edit: I found the following summary here:

The authors point out that while Meitner’s contributions to the discovery of nuclear fission were real and substantial, her absence from Berlin during the actual discovery was a significant factor in her neglect. Hahn and Strassman could not admit to any collaborative work with an exiled Jewish scientist. Although Hahn included a reference to the interpretations of Meitner and Frisch in his February 1939 paper on the verification of barium and other products from the neutron irradiation of uranium, his words minimized the importance of the Meitner-Frisch contribution. But even after the war, when Hahn was free of the restraints of the Nazi regime, there is evidence that Hahn was unwilling to admit the contributions of Meitner and Frisch to his work on nuclear fission. The authors state: “Although [Hahn] acknowledges the contributions of Meitner and Frisch in his autobiography, there are also indications that he simply did not understand Meitner’s later theoretical contributions and therefore felt she had contributed little to the discovery.”

So while her being Jewish is the reason she wasn’t in Berlin and thus didn’t take part in “the actual discovery,” I don’t think it’s fair to directly equate her not getting the Nobel with “racial hatred.” The reasons were complicated, and that was just one strand.

[ Edited: 03 November 2011 10:50 AM by languagehat ]
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Posted: 03 November 2011 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I think there’s been a misunderstanding, lh. I wasn’t (heaven forfend!) accusing the Nobel prize committee, or Hahn, of race hatred. All I meant was that in a saner world, [relatively] free of racial hatred, Meitner would have continued to work in Germany on equal terms with other scientists, and would not, at the height of her career, have had to flee the country of her work and achievement, as a persecuted refugee; nor would Hahn have had to soft-pedal the fact of his having worked for years in close association with a Jew. The Nobel prize committee would have been presented with a very different picture. It was the Nazi regime, and its vile credo, which blighted Meitner’s career. If you put a different construction on my words, then they must have been poorly chosen. I hope this sets the record straight.

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Posted: 03 November 2011 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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That clarifies it for me; I had thought you were suggesting antisemitism on the part of the Nobel committee, and was going to point out that quite a few Jews had won Nobels before Meitner’s exclusion.

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Posted: 03 November 2011 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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November....the Soviet Union invades Finland, Soviet forces will be several mauled by the Finns in the coming winter until they finally overwhelm Finnish defenses by sheer numbers

You mean “severely mauled”, maybe?

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Posted: 03 November 2011 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I hope this sets the record straight.

Absolutely; I fully agree with your new wording.

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Posted: 03 November 2011 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I almost mentioned Meitner, but in the end did not because (according to my understanding) she did not take part in the fission experiment that Hahn had conducted in 1938 which was what I was recording. (And was probably also a factor in her not getting the Nobel.)

The way I’ve usually heard the story was that it wasn’t race or antisemitism that played a role in her being denied the Nobel, but rather the fact that she was a woman. The contributions of women were overlooked as a matter of course in those days. A woman had to be a great on the scale of Marie Curie to be recognized.

Another case is that of Rosalind Franklin, who was not named by the Nobel committee in 1952 alongside Watson and Crick. One can make the argument that she was not as instrumental in the discovery of DNA’s structure as her two more famous colleagues, but she had a hell of lot more to do with it than Maurice Wilkins who also shared the prize.

[ Edited: 03 November 2011 02:02 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 03 November 2011 10:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Another case is that of Rosalind Franklin, who was not named by the Nobel committee in 1952 alongside Watson and Crick.

On reading “The Double Helix”, I was left with the impression of an ego so colossal, that it seemed to me surprising that even Crick managed to get a mention, let alone a share of the prize. One of those self-obsessed geniuses one would rather not know, I thought. Of course I could have been wrong; many autobiographers do themselves less than justice.
Frederick Banting is more to my taste, as the kind of Nobel Prize winner one could admire personally.

I’m afraid this is getting terribly digressive. Sorry, all.

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