Frederick Soddy—Pioneer in Radioactivity

02 Sep 2020  Wed

Frederick Soddy was an English chemist and recipient of the 1921 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for investigating radioactive substances and for elaborating the theory of isotopes. He is credited, along with others, with the discovery of the element protactinium in 1917.

Soddy was born at 5 Bolton Road, Eastbourne, England, the son of Benjamin Soddy, corn merchant, and his wife Hannah Green. He went to school at Eastbourne College, before going on to study at University College of Wales at Aberystwyth and at Merton College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1898 with first-class honors in chemistry. He was a researcher at Oxford from 1898 to 1900. With Ernest Rutherford he explained, that radioactivity is due to the transmutation of elements, now known to involve nuclear reactions.

Soddy received many honors and awards besides the Nobel Prize. On September 22, 1956, at the age of 79 years, he died in Brighton, Sussex. He was honored on a stamp (Scott No. 1389) issued by Sweden in 1981. The stamp is one in a set of 3 stamps honoring 1921 Nobel Prize winners. The others honored were Albert Einstein (1979-1955) in physics and Anatole France (1844-1924) in literature.

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