Breaking stereotypes in Marietta


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‘Rosie the Riveter’ group member helped break stereotypes

By MICHAEL KELLY

The Marietta Times

Saturday, February 9

MARIETTA, Ohio (AP) — Neva Rees was the type of pioneer about whom people often remark, “There won’t be another one like her,” but Rees might have hoped there will be many more.

The Marietta resident and West Virginia native died Feb. 3 at the age of 97. She is remembered by friends, family and many others as a fiercely independent character who spent much of her life proving that women can do anything.

Best known in the region as a member of the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” group, Rees in her early 20s worked at a production plant in Akron that built Goodyear blimps used as reconnaissance airships during World War II. She helped assemble the flight crew cabins for the big vessels.

“During that time, she began to understand that the women of her generation went up against a lot of stereotypes, especially about what they could and could not do,” her son, Ron Rees, of Marietta, remembers. “It even came down to whether women would be allowed to wear trousers. She’s told younger women, ‘We made a lot of things possible for you.’ One of her favorite T-shirts had the message, ‘Never underestimate the power of an old feminist.’”

Neva Rees developed her independence at any early age, growing up as “somewhere around the middle child” in a farming family of 12 children in West Virginia, Ron said.

“She became kind of the deputy mom, practically raised her two youngest brothers. It was a dairy farm, and she told me she couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t milk every day. She worked her whole life,” he said.

Ron said his mother could hunt, camp, repair things and run a household with ruthless efficiency.

“When she and my dad were dating, they would sometimes go hunting. There weren’t so many deer around them, so it was rabbits and squirrels. She had her own shotgun,” he said. “I remember seeing her lay concrete block for our house in the winter. She was always pushing back at stereotypes. And to her, the biggest sin was being lazy.”

After the war, Neva married Harry James Rees. The couple had two sons, Ron and Gary. Her husband died in 1975 and she moved to California to be with Gary, Ron said. While living there she became an advocate for gay rights, even participating in demonstrations, Ron said. When she returned, she became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Marietta because it was the only one that reflected her beliefs, he said.

Her niece Colleen Downing, 70 and a resident of Washington Court House, considered Neva a second mother.

“I became her surrogate daughter,” she said. “After my mom died, she became a big part of my life.”

She admired and learned from Neva’s attitude toward getting things done and her fearlessness.

“If she wanted to do something, she just did,” Downing said. “People now think they need special tools or equipment, that sort of thing. I remember Aunt Neva telling me how she made yogurt using a laundry basket and a heating pad. She refinished furniture. She got involved in a dance group in California and went folk dancing in Hungary. When she was 70 she drove cross-country from California, she didn’t think anything of it.”

Downing thinks working in the Goodyear plant had a lasting influence on Neva’s thinking and approach to life.

“Working in that defense plant was a challenge, that was one of the things that made her a survivor,” she said. “It gave her great confidence, to see other women in the plant doing men’s jobs, convinced her that women can do anything they set their minds to.”

Neva’s influence extended well beyond her family. She spoke to school groups and Girl Scout troops about her life experiences.

“She was so helpful to people, and very independent. She never wanted to ask anyone to do anything for her, and she was an inspiration to a lot of people for just that reason,” Downing said.

Rev. Katherine Hawbaker of the Unitarian Universalist Church said Neva joined the congregation shortly before she did, and they became close friends almost immediately.

“She was like an adopted grandparent, she always went out of her way to connect with people. She made blankets for graduating seniors, she sewed new collars on a couple of my shirts. That was old-school skill, she knew how to do all kinds of things.

“She was the best example of our congregation at its best, always welcoming to new people, she’d sit down and have coffee, talk to people about how important this church family is,” she said.

Her independence and generosity was an inspiration, Hawbaker said.

Cindy Burton, a teacher at Phillips Elementary School, met Neva through the church.

“Her wisdom and experience, her personality brought me such joy,” Burton, 51, said. “I considered her my 97-year-old best friend.”

Burton said she can still picture Neva sitting across the table with a cup of coffee, talking with her.

“She was so very wise, we had that connection, and the things we shared will always be a part of me, that knowing you had somebody who wanted to listen and share,” she said.

Ron Rees said he recently heard a story about Neva that he found particularly striking.

“She had a group of about 25 girls over at her house, and one of them asked where she went to church,” he said. “She told them, and added, ‘Most churches told me I needed fixing. Well, it was those churches that needed the fixing. And none of you need fixing, either.”

Study says soccer stadium noise could impact Music Hall

Sunday, February 10

CINCINNATI (AP) — A study has found that game day noise from the coming stadium for Cincinnati’s soccer team could disrupt performances and rehearsals at a nearby hall where several arts groups perform.

Noise from FC Cincinnati games would be “readily audible” by members of the audience and performers in Music Hall’s Springer Auditorium, according to the recently released report by the consulting firm Akustiks.

The Cincinnati Arts Association, which operates Music Hall, commissioned the study. Resident companies at Music Hall include the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet, Opera and the May Festival.

To conduct the study, Akustiks simulated noise levels for a soccer match with a stadium of 26,000 fans and an amplified music concert.

“Crowd noise by itself can be loud enough to cause intrusion in the house and on stage,” the study said.

The report named numerous aspects in Music Hall’s construction for the noise intrusion, such as its lightweight roof and openings in the auditorium for lighting. It also said sound barriers listed in the stadium construction plan would not reduce noise as intended.

The report said exterior portions of the stadium intended to reduce sound will be made of such lightweight materials that they are “essentially ineffective.”

Team President and General Manager Jeff Berding has argued in a statement that there haven’t been noise complaints about soccer games played at University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, which is near the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Berding said he has “never received a single call or complaint” from anyone from the university or the conservatory regarding noise disruption from games at Nippert Stadium.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Akustiks said in a response to Berding’s statement that comparing the conservatory to Music Hall “is comparing apples and oranges.”

The conservatory was renovated after Nippert underwent an expansion in 1992, allowing for architects to plan sound buffering.

Music Hall’s recent renovation was planned in 2015, before FC Cincinnati considered the area for a stadium.

Akustiks is expected to release its final report before the end of the month.

Homer Bailey, Royals agree to minor league contract

Saturday, February 9

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Right-hander Homer Bailey and the Kansas City Royals and agreed to a minor contract on Saturday that includes an invitation to big league spring training.

The 32-year-old has spent his entire 12-year career in Cincinnati, making 212 starts and going 67-77 with a 4.56 ERA. Bailey was traded from the Reds to the Dodgers in a seven-player deal in December, then was released and became a free agent.

Bailey has thrown a pair of no-hitters, the first against Pittsburgh in September 2012 and the other against San Francisco the following July. He won 24 games over those two seasons.

He’s also dealt with injuries the past few years, though, starting the season on the disabled list each year from 2015-17. Bailey made eight starts total in 2015 and 2016.

If he is added to the 40-man roster, Bailey would get the $555,000 big league minimum from the Royals, which would be offset against the $23 million he is owed by the Dodgers in the final guaranteed season of a $105 million, six-year deal he signed with Cincinnati.

Royals’ pitchers and catchers report to Surprise, Arizona, for spring training Tuesday.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Sunday, February 10

Wesson’s tie-breaking dunk sends Buckeyes past Hoosiers

Andre Wesson scored the last of his 15 points on a tie-breaking dunk with 20 seconds left Sunday to help Ohio State pull off a 55-52 victory at Indiana. The Buckeyes (16-7, 6-6 Big Ten) won their third straight overall and added a key road victory to their postseason resume. Romeo Langford had 15 points to lead Indiana (13-11, 4-9), which has lost nine of its last 10 and four in a row at home.

By MICHAEL MAROT

AP Sports Writer

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Ohio State’s Andre Wesson kept fighting through the muck Sunday.

When he finally got free in the final minute, he stole a win.

Wesson forced a game-changing turnover in the final minute and then slipped behind one defender and got to the basket for a tie-breaking dunk with 20 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 55-52 victory over Indiana.

“This is kind of the Andre I’ve seen since he got here,” said C.J. Jackson, whose long, shot-clock beating 3 tied the score with 71 seconds left. “He’s playing unbelievable for us right now and we’re going to need his scoring, his ability to do everything he does on the court for us.”

Sunday’s game was a perfect example of how valuable Wesson can be.

While his teammates struggled to get in sync offensively, the junior forward continually made an impact. He finished with 15 points, four rebounds and two steals — none bigger than the one he had with 42 seconds to go that prevented Indiana from taking a potential go-ahead shot.

And when it mattered most, Wesson played perfectly.

“They slipped him out. Our rotation was there. I thought Romeo (Langford) had a chance to make maybe a blocked shot, but he got it off the glass quickly,” Hoosiers coach Archie Miller said. “Our help obviously didn’t get there in time.”

Wesson’s younger brother, Kaleb, and Jackson each scored 10 points and were the only other players to reach double figures for the resurgent Buckeyes (16-7, 6-6 Big Ten), who have won three straight.

Indiana (13-11, 4-9), meanwhile, continues to struggle. It has lost nine of 10.

The Hoosiers fought valiantly to overcome another dismal shooting performance and finally got the crowd into the game when Langford made his second 3 in a 9-0 run to tie the score at 47 with 4:54 left. Langford finished with 15 points.

Devonte Green’s long, buzzer-beating 3 sent the fans into a frenzy as Indiana took 52-49 lead with 1:46 to play.

But Jackson matched Green’s basket and Wesson won it with his defense and his offense.

“We just knew they were going to be heavy on the ball screen so we tried to slip him out and put Kaleb high,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “I thought Andre did a great job finishing and the pass was perfect.”

BIG PICTURE

Ohio State: The Buckeyes have scored fewer than 70 points in five of their last six games. And they’ll need more scoring punch to survive a tough final stretch and secure an NCAA Tournament bid.

Indiana: The Hoosiers forced 15 turnovers but were 6 of 20 on 3s and got outrebounded 35-29. If those numbers don’t change, Indiana’s struggles will continue.

UNIFORM CHANGE

Indiana wore commemorative uniforms Sunday to honor the 70th anniversary season of the late Bill Garrett breaking the Big Ten’s color barrier.

Garrett became the first black player to start for a Big Ten basketball team on Dec. 4, 1948. He was named an All-American in 1951 and finished his career in 1952 as the Hoosiers’ career scoring leader (792 points).

The Hoosiers wore shooting shirts with a special logo on their left sleeve and pin-striped uniforms that featured an old-school look. On the inside of the waistband was the word “ballroom,” a reference to the Harlem Renaissance Movement and its impact on the black community and the sport of basketball.

Garrett’s son, Billy Jr., attended the game.

STAT PACK

Ohio State: After shooting 38.5 percent in the first half, the Buckeyes shot 50 percent in the second half. … Musa Jallow led the Buckeyes with six rebounds. … Jackson had four of Ohio State’s 13 assists. … It was the lowest combined score in the series since the Buckeyes won 52-51 in March 2006.

Indiana: Has lost four consecutive home games for the first time since 2010-11. … The Hoosiers are 20-6 under Miller when holding teams to fewer than 70 points. … Juwan Morgan had three points and a career-high 14 rebounds. … Green scored 10 points as the Hoosiers shot 39.6 percent from the field.

UP NEXT

Ohio State: Can complete a season sweep of Illinois at home Thursday.

Indiana: Hopes to turn things around Saturday at Minnesota.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

The Conversation

Lise Meitner – the forgotten woman of nuclear physics who deserved a Nobel Prize

February 7, 2019

Author: Timothy J. Jorgensen, Director of the Health Physics and Radiation Protection Graduate Program and Associate Professor of Radiation Medicine, Georgetown University

Disclosure statement: Timothy J. Jorgensen does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Nuclear fission – the physical process by which very large atoms like uranium split into pairs of smaller atoms – is what makes nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants possible. But for many years, physicists believed it energetically impossible for atoms as large as uranium (atomic mass = 235 or 238) to be split into two.

That all changed on Feb. 11, 1939, with a letter to the editor of Nature – a premier international scientific journal – that described exactly how such a thing could occur and even named it fission. In that letter, physicist Lise Meitner, with the assistance of her young nephew Otto Frisch, provided a physical explanation of how nuclear fission could happen.

It was a massive leap forward in nuclear physics, but today Lise Meitner remains obscure and largely forgotten. She was excluded from the victory celebration because she was a Jewish woman. Her story is a sad one.

What happens when you split an atom

Meitner based her fission argument on the “liquid droplet model” of nuclear structure – a model that likened the forces that hold the atomic nucleus together to the surface tension that gives a water droplet its structure.

She noted that the surface tension of an atomic nucleus weakens as the charge of the nucleus increases, and could even approach zero tension if the nuclear charge was very high, as is the case for uranium (charge = 92+). The lack of sufficient nuclear surface tension would then allow the nucleus to split into two fragments when struck by a neutron – a chargeless subatomic particle – with each fragment carrying away very high levels of kinetic energy. Meisner remarked: “The whole ‘fission’ process can thus be described in an essentially classical [physics] way.” Just that simple, right?

Meitner went further to explain how her scientific colleagues had gotten it wrong. When scientists bombarded uranium with neutrons, they believed the uranium nucleus, rather than splitting, captured some neutrons. These captured neutrons were then converted into positively charged protons and thus transformed the uranium into the incrementally larger elements on the periodic table of elements – the so-called “transuranium,” or beyond uranium, elements.

Some people were skeptical that neutron bombardment could produce transuranium elements, including Irene Joliot-Curie – Marie Curie’s daughter – and Meitner. Joliot-Curie had found that one of these new alleged transuranium elements actually behaved chemically just like radium, the element her mother had discovered. Joliot-Curie suggested that it might be just radium (atomic mass = 226) – an element somewhat smaller than uranium – that was coming from the neutron-bombarded uranium.

Meitner had an alternative explanation. She thought that, rather than radium, the element in question might actually be barium – an element with a chemistry very similar to radium. The issue of radium versus barium was very important to Meitner because barium (atomic mass = 139) was a possible fission product according to her split uranium theory, but radium was not – it was too big (atomic mass = 226).

Meitner urged her chemist colleague Otto Hahn to try to further purify the uranium bombardment samples and assess whether they were, in fact, made up of radium or its chemical cousin barium. Hahn complied, and he found that Meitner was correct: the element in the sample was indeed barium, not radium. Hahn’s finding suggested that the uranium nucleus had split into pieces – becoming two different elements with smaller nuclei – just as Meitner had suspected.

As a Jewish woman, Meitner was left behind

Meitner should have been the hero of the day, and the physicists and chemists should have jointly published their findings and waited to receive the world’s accolades for their discovery of nuclear fission. But unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

Meitner had two difficulties: She was a Jew living as an exile in Sweden because of the Jewish persecution going on in Nazi Germany, and she was a woman. She might have overcome either one of these obstacles to scientific success, but both proved insurmountable.

Meitner had been working as Hahn’s academic equal when they were on the faculty of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin together. By all accounts they were close colleagues and friends for many years. When the Nazis took over, however, Meitner was forced to leave Germany. She took a position in Stockholm, and continued to work on nuclear issues with Hahn and his junior colleague Fritz Strassmann through regular correspondence. This working relationship, though not ideal, was still highly productive. The barium discovery was the latest fruit of that collaboration.

Yet when it came time to publish, Hahn knew that including a Jewish woman on the paper would cost him his career in Germany. So he published without her, falsely claiming that the discovery was based solely on insights gleaned from his own chemical purification work, and that any physical insight contributed by Meitner played an insignificant role. All this despite the fact he wouldn’t have even thought to isolate barium from his samples had Meitner not directed him to do so.

Hahn had trouble explaining his own findings, though. In his paper, he put forth no plausible mechanism as to how uranium atoms had split into barium atoms. But Meitner had the explanation. So a few weeks later, Meitner wrote her famous fission letter to the editor, ironically explaining the mechanism of “Hahn’s discovery.”

Even that didn’t help her situation. The Nobel Committee awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei” to Hahn alone. Paradoxically, the word “fission” never appeared in Hahn’s original publication, as Meitner had been the first to coin the term in the letter published afterward.

A controversy has raged about the discovery of nuclear fission ever since, with critics claiming it represents one of the worst examples of blatant racism and sexism by the Nobel committee. Unlike another prominent female nuclear physicist whose career preceded her – Marie Curie – Meitner’s contributions to nuclear physics were never recognized by the Nobel committee. She has been totally left out in the cold, and remains unknown to most of the public.

After the war, Meitner remained in Stockholm and became a Swedish citizen. Later in life, she decided to let bygones be bygones. She reconnected with Hahn, and the two octogenarians resumed their friendship. Although the Nobel committee never acknowledged its mistake, the slight to Meitner was partly mitigated in 1966 when the U.S. Department of Energy jointly awarded her, Hahn and Strassmann its prestigious Enrico Fermi Award “for pioneering research in the naturally occurring radioactivities and extensive experimental studies leading to the discovery of fission.” The two-decade late recognition came just in time for Meitner. She and Hahn died within months of each other in 1968; they were both 89 years old.

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