I can believe that she was remarkable enough for having had the insights that she did in nuclear physics. When you take into account the discrimination that she met as a women, her shyness in youth and, not least, her need to flee the persecution by the Nazis as a Jew her achievement is stunning. Far from being embittered or hardened by these experiences, however, she refused to apply her intellect toward the task of building the atomic bomb.
That's one way that she is often shown—that photo at the right—when she was a lovely young woman. And, here's how she looked as represented by actress Emily Woof in “Einstein's Big Idea” on the American Public Broadcasting System.
The programme is somewhat misleading. Meitner was born in 1878 and this video takes up her story from 1938, when she was about 60. I knew that others would be writing about Meitner; I wanted to say something a little different about her and others like her, if possible. It is this. Here is how she would have looked in 1933 (from Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) just a few years earlier. She would not have looked like she was 35.
What I wanted to say is that older women, like Lise Meitner, are capable of amazing things.