Press Release

Astrochemist Ewine van Dishoeck Receives Lise Meitner Award

By SpaceRef Editor
September 19, 2014
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Today professor Ewine van Dishoeck (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University) was awarded the Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award 2014. The Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award is awarded annually to a scientist who made a breakthrough discovery in physics. Van Dishoeck receives the award for the identification of the molecular pathways that allow the formation of stars and planets from dilute gas and microscopic dust particles. At the award ceremony in Gothenburg, Sweden, Van Dishoeck presented the Swedish version of the educational iPad game Planet Challenge, Planetresan. The game will soon be released in four other languages.

The Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award is awarded by the Gothenburg Physics Center since 2006. Lise Meitner was a physicist from Berlin who was forced to flee to Sweden because of the Second World War. She was an outstanding researcher but had trouble getting a getting a regular academic position because she was a woman — and even though she and her nephew Otto Frisch were the first to explain nuclear fission.

A group of twenty young children were the first to play the educational game at the Universeum, the biggest science center in the Nordic countries, together with professor Van Dishoeck. She is enthusiastic about the educational game: “Through this game, young children become aware of our fascinating universe in a playful way. They learn about our solar system by a fun game with a unique design. It is an honor to receive the prestigious Gothenburg Lise Meitner Award and thereby be able to introduce the next generation to science.”

The educative game Planet Challenge (Planetenreis in Dutch) takes children from the age of six on a scavenger hunt through our solar system. The child learns about the characteristics of the planets and distances in our solar system while playing. The goal of the mission is to bring the ice from Pluto back to earth! The educational game Planetenreis will be available in six languages: English, Swedish, Spanish, German, French and Dutch. The game can soon be downloaded for free for three days to mark this event.

Franka Buurmeijer, MSc
Netherlands Research School for Astronomy
+31 (0)20 525 7480, cell: +31 (0)6 4413 8822

Prof. Dr. Ewine van Dishoeck
Leiden Observatory, Leiden University
+31 (0)71 527 5814

Jaap Vreeling
Netherlands Research School for Astronomy
+31 (0)20 525 7480

More information on the game Planet Challenge:
(You can leave your email address on this website to receive a notification when the game is available in the App Store. This is also possible by sending an email to

Planet Challenge was developed by Game Oven commissioned by NOVA and Moon Uitgevers with a contribution from Marijn Franx (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University). The translations were possible thanks to a contribution from Ewine van Dishoeck (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University). The game was awarded third prize in the Meester App contest of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The jury on the game Planet Challenge: “It is a real scavenger hunt, you learn by doing. There is a team behind it with great understanding…. And the design is exceptionally beautiful.”

SpaceRef staff editor.