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Pierre Auger – Lise Meitner: Comparative contributions to the Auger effect

  • Olivier Hardouin Duparc


It has been claimed by R. Sietmann that the attribution of the discovery of the so-called ‘Auger’ effect to Pierre Auger was a false attribution and that Lise Meitner should have got the credit for that discovery. However Sietmann himself recognised that Meitner's description of this effect was ‘buried in’ two larger papers whose primary concern was nuclear physics. Sietmann only mentioned Auger's 1925 article and did not mention his 1923 article, an omission now found in many places. We examine again L. Meitner's and P. Auger's contributions to the description of the ‘Auger’ effect. Meitner's concern was the exact nature of the (nuclear) beta radiations about which she opposed Ch. D. Ellis, and this had been the subject of an intense Berlin–Cambridge controversy where Ellis' description eventually prevailed. Auger's observations were the central theme of his PhD thesis at the J. Perrin's laboratory on the composed photoelectric effect. We thus believe that while L. Meitner should have shared the Nobel Prize with O. Hahn, the Auger effect has rightly been attributed to Auger.

* Correspondence address, O. Hardouin Duparc, LSI, UMR 7642 CNRS-CEA-X, École Polytechnique91128 Palaiseau, France, Tel.: +33 1 69 33 45 32, Fax: +33 1 69 33 45 54, E-mail:


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Received: 2008-9-2
Accepted: 2008-10-27
Published Online: 2013-06-11
Published in Print: 2009-09-01

© 2009, Carl Hanser Verlag, München

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