Isotopes 100: Frederick Soddy and Glasgow in the history of science

Soddy memorial plaque at the UofG Chemistry Building

Soddy memorial plaque at the UofG Chemistry Building (GUAS: DC58/4/8)

December 2013 marks the centenary of the discovery of isotopes at the University of Glasgow by Frederick Soddy (1877–1956), lecturer in Physical Chemistry (including Radioactivity).

After collaborating with eminent physicist and chemist, Ernest Rutherford, at McGill University in Montreal, Frederick Soddy continued his work here from 1904. In Glasgow he proved that uranium decays to radium, and formulated and proved his theory of isotopes, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1921.

In 1914 he took up the chair in Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen and in 1919 at the University of Oxford.

Burdened by the great paradox in his discoveries to bring about great wealth or mass destruction, he later wrote on and campaigned for economic and currency reform, ethical awareness and working for the benefit of wider social and cultural life.

The man and his achievements will be commemorated here on campus with a series of events and an exhibition. These begin on Tuesday 26 November 2013 with a talk by Hunterian curator Dr John Faithfull at 7pm in the MacKenna Room (level 7 of the library), organised by the Friends of Glasgow University Library. On Wednesday 4 December, dubbed Isotope Day, an exhibition will open in the new Science Showcase space in the Hunterian Museum. Objects from the University archives and library Special Collections will also be on display.

Categories: Archive Services, Library, Special Collections

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