Glenn T. Seaborg

Glenn T. Seaborg
Glenn Seaborg - 1964.jpg
Seaborg in 1964
BornGlenn Theodore Seaborg
(1912-04-19)April 19, 1912
Ishpeming, Michigan
DiedFebruary 25, 1999(1999-02-25) (aged 86)
Lafayette, California
NationalityUnited States
Alma mater
  • UCLA
  • University of California, Berkeley
Known forhis contributions to the synthesis, discovery and investigation of ten transuranium elements
Scientific career
FieldsNuclear chemistry
Doctoral advisor
Doctoral students
Glenn T Seaborg signature.svg

Glenn Theodore Seaborg (ɡ/; April 19, 1912 – February 25, 1999) was an American chemist whose involvement in the synthesis, discovery and investigation of ten transuranium elements earned him a share of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.[3] His work in this area also led to his development of the actinide concept and the arrangement of the actinide series in the periodic table of the elements.

Seaborg spent most of his career as an educator and research scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, serving as a professor, and, between 1958 and 1961, as the university's second chancellor.[4] He advised ten US Presidents – from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton – on nuclear policy and was Chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission from 1961 to 1971, where he pushed for commercial nuclear energy and the peaceful applications of nuclear science. Throughout his career, Seaborg worked for arms control. He was a signatory to the Franck Report and contributed to the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He was a well-known advocate of science education and federal funding for pure research. Toward the end of the Eisenhower administration, he was the principal author of the Seaborg Report on academic science, and, as a member of President Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Excellence in Education, he was a key contributor to its 1983 report "A Nation at Risk".

Seaborg was the principal or co-discoverer of ten elements: plutonium, americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, nobelium and element 106, which, while he was still living, was named seaborgium in his honor. He also discovered more than 100 atomic isotopes and is credited with important contributions to the chemistry of plutonium, originally as part of the Manhattan Project where he developed the extraction process used to isolate the plutonium fuel for the second atomic bomb. Early in his career, he was a pioneer in nuclear medicine and discovered isotopes of elements with important applications in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, including iodine-131, which is used in the treatment of thyroid disease. In addition to his theoretical work in the development of the actinide concept, which placed the actinide series beneath the lanthanide series on the periodic table, he postulated the existence of super-heavy elements in the transactinide and superactinide series.

After sharing the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Edwin McMillan, he received approximately 50 honorary doctorates and numerous other awards and honors. The list of things named after Seaborg ranges from his chemical element to an asteroid. He was a prolific author, penning numerous books and 500 journal articles, often in collaboration with others. He was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the person with the longest entry in Who's Who in America.

Early life

Glenn Theodore Seaborg was born in Ishpeming, Michigan, on April 19, 1912, the son of Herman Theodore (Ted) and Selma Olivia Erickson Seaborg. He had one sister, Jeanette, who was two years younger. His family spoke Swedish at home. When Glenn Seaborg was a boy, the family moved to Los Angeles County, California, settling in a subdivision called Home Gardens, later annexed to the City of South Gate, California. About this time he changed the spelling of his first name from 'Glen' to "Glenn".[5]

Seaborg kept a daily journal from 1927 until he suffered a stroke in 1998.[6] As a youth, Seaborg was both a devoted sports fan and an avid movie buff. His mother encouraged him to become a bookkeeper as she felt his literary interests were impractical. He did not take an interest in science until his junior year when he was inspired by Dwight Logan Reid, a chemistry and physics teacher at David Starr Jordan High School in Watts.[7]

Seaborg graduated from Jordan in 1929 at the top of his class and received a bachelor of arts (AB) degree in chemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1933.[5] He worked his way through school as a stevedore and a laboratory assistant at Firestone.[8] Seaborg received his PhD in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1937 with a doctoral thesis on the "Interaction of Fast Neutrons with Lead",[9] in which he coined the term "nuclear spallation".[10]

Seaborg was a member of the professional chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma. As a graduate student in the 1930s Seaborg performed wet chemistry research for his advisor Gilbert Newton Lewis,[10] and published three papers with him on the theory of acids and bases.[11][12][13] Seaborg studied the text Applied Radiochemistry by Otto Hahn, of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin, and it had a major impact on his developing interests as a research scientist. For several years, Seaborg conducted important research in artificial radioactivity using the Lawrence cyclotron at UC Berkeley. He was excited to learn from others that nuclear fission was possible—but also chagrined, as his own research might have led him to the same discovery.[14]

Seaborg also became an expert in dealing with noted Berkeley physicist Robert Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer had a daunting reputation, and often answered a junior man's question before it had even been stated. Often the question answered was more profound than the one asked, but of little practical help. Seaborg learned to state his questions to Oppenheimer quickly and succinctly.[15]

Other Languages
العربية: غلين سيبورغ
asturianu: Glenn T. Seaborg
Bân-lâm-gú: Glenn T. Seaborg
български: Глен Сиборг
čeština: Glenn Seaborg
Հայերեն: Գլենն Սիբորգ
hrvatski: Glenn Seaborg
Bahasa Indonesia: Glenn Seaborg
Basa Jawa: Glenn T. Seaborg
Kiswahili: Glenn Seaborg
Nederlands: Glenn Seaborg
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Glenn T. Seaborg
پنجابی: گلین سیبورگ
Plattdüütsch: Glenn Theodore Seaborg
Simple English: Glenn Seaborg
српски / srpski: Глен Т. Сиборг
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Glenn T. Seaborg
Tiếng Việt: Glenn Seaborg