Frederick Soddy

Frederick Soddy

name = Frederick Soddy

image_size = 180px
birth_date = birth date|1877|9|2
birth_place = Eastbourne, England
nationality = United Kingdom
death_date = death date and age|1956|9|22|1877|9|2
death_place = Brighton, England
field = Radiochemistry
work_institution = McGill University
University of Aberdeen
University of Glasgow
alma_mater = Aberystwyth University
Merton College, Oxford
doctoral_advisor = Ernest Rutherford
doctoral_students = Iimori Satosayu
known_for = Soddy's hexlet
Coining the term 'isotope'
Soddy circles

prizes = Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1921)

Frederick Soddy (2 September 1877 – 22 September 1956) was an English radiochemist.


Soddy was born in Eastbourne, England. He went to school at Eastbourne College, before going on to study at University College of Wales at Aberystwyth and at Merton College, Oxford. He was a researcher at Oxford from 1898 to 1900. He married Winifred Beilby in 1908.

In 1900 he became a demonstrator in chemistry at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he worked with Ernest Rutherford on radioactivity. He and Rutherford realized that the anomalous behaviour of radioactive elements was because they decayed into other elements. This decay also produced alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. When radioactivity was first discovered, no one was sure what the cause was. It needed careful work by Soddy and Rutherford to prove that atomic transmutation was in fact occurring.

His work and essays popularising the new understanding of radioactivity was the main inspiration for H. G. Wells's "The World Set Free" (1914), which features atomic bombs dropped from biplanes in a war set many years in the future. Wells's novel is also known as "The Last War" and imagines a peaceful world emerging from the chaos. In "Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt" Soddy praises Wells’s "The World Set Free". He also says that radioactive processes probably power the stars.

In 1903, with Sir William Ramsay at University College London, Soddy verified that the decay of radium produced alpha particles composed of positively charged nuclei of helium. In the experiment a sample of radium was enclosed in a thin walled glass envelope sited within an evacuated glass bulb. Alpha particles could pass through the thin glass wall but were contained within the surrounding glass envelope. After leaving the experiment running for a long period of time a spectral analysis of the contents of the former evacuated space revealed the presence of helium. This element had recently been discovered in the solar spectrum by Bunsen and Kirchoff. [cite journal
title = Experiments in Radioactivity, and the Production of Helium from Radium
author = William Ramsay; Frederick Soddy
journal = Proceedings of the Royal Society of London
volume = 72
issue =
pages = 204–207
year = 1903 - 1904
url =
doi = 10.1098/rspl.1903.0040

From 1904 to 1914, he was a lecturer at the University of Glasgow and while there he showed that uranium decays to radium. It was here also that he showed that a radioactive element may have more than one atomic mass though the chemical properties are identical. He named this concept isotope meaning 'same place' - the word 'isotope' was initially suggested to him by Margaret Todd. Soddy later showed that non-radioactive elements also could have multiple isotopes. In addition he showed that an atom moves lower in atomic number by two places on alpha emission, higher by one place on beta emission. This was a fundamental step toward understanding the relationships among families of radioactive elements.

Soddy published [ "The Interpretation of Radium"] (1909) and "Atomic Transmutation" (1953).

In 1914 he was appointed to a chair at the University of Aberdeen, where he worked on research related to World War I.

In 1919 he moved to Oxford University as Dr Lee's Professor of Chemistry, where, in the period up till 1936, he reorganized the laboratories and the syllabus in chemistry.

He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his research in radioactive decay and particularly for his formulation of the theory of isotopes.

Soddy was also interested in Technocracy and the social credit movement, which is evidenced by his publication "Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt" (George Allen & Unwin 1926), which is used as a footnote reference in the "Technocracy Study Course". Soddy himself, in a newsreel interview taken in his office and laboratory, presented in the early 30's a very nice admission and commendation for the development of Technocratic ideas in the United States. [ [ History and Purpose of Technocracy by Howard Scott] ] In Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt, Soddy turned his attention to the role of energy in economic systems. He criticized the focus on monetary flows in economics, arguing that “real” wealth was derived from the use of energy to transform materials into physical goods and services. Soddy’s economic writings were largely ignored in his time, but would later be applied to the development of biophysical economics and ecological economics and also bioeconomics in the late 20th century. [,_FrederickSoddy, Frederick - Encyclopedia of Earth]

He rediscovered the Descartes' theorem in 1936 and published it as poem. The kissing circles in this problem are sometimes known as Soddy circles.

The lunar crater Soddy is named after him. He died in Brighton, England.

ee also

*Problem of Apollonius
*Technocracy Incorporated


* "Radioactivity" (1904)
* " [ The Interpretation of Radium] " (1909) "(a searchable facsimile at the University of Georgia Libraries; DjVu & [ layered PDF] format)"
* "The Chemistry of the Radioactive Elements" (1912-1914)
* "Matter and Energy" (1912)
* "Science and Life" (1920)
* "Wealth, virtual wealth and debt. The solution of the economic paradox" (1926)
* "The Interpretation of the Atom" (1932)
* "Money versus Man" (1933)
* "The Story of Atomic Energy" (1949)
* "Atomic Transmutation" (1953)


*cite journal | title=Frederick Soddy: The scientist as prophet | author=Mansel Davies | journal=Annals of Science | volume=49 | issue=4 | pages=351 – 367 | year=1992 | doi=10.1080/00033799200200301 | url=
*cite journal | title=The World Made New: Frederick Soddy, Science, Politics, and Environment | author=George B. Kauffman | journal=Isis | volume=88 | issue=3 | pages=564 | year=1997 | url= | doi=10.1086/383825
*cite journal | title=The economic thought of Frederick Soddy | author=Daly, Herman E. Winter | journal=History of Political Economy | volume=12 | issue=4 | pages=469–488 | year=1980 | url=
*cite journal | title=Soddy, Frederick and the Practical Significance of Radioactive Matter | author=Freeman M. I. | journal=Britisch Journal for the History of Science | volume=12 | issue=42 | pages=257–260 | year=1979 | doi= | url=
*cite journal | title=From Alchemy to Atomic War: Frederick Soddy's "Technology Assessment" of Atomic Energy, 1900-1915 | author=Richard E. Sclove | journal=Science, Technology, & Human Values | volume=14 | issue=2 | pages=163 | year=1989 | url= | doi=10.1177/016224398901400203, pp. 163-194
*cite book | title=The World Made New: Frederick Soddy, Science, Politics, and Environment. | author=Linda Merricks | publisher=Oxford University Press | place=Oxford New York | pages=223 | year=1996 | isbn=0198559348
*cite book | title=Frederick Soddy: 1877-1956. | author=A. N. Krivomazov | publisher=Nauka | place=Moscow | pages=208 | year=1978
*cite book | title=Frederick Soddy (1877-1956): Early Pioneer in Radiochemistry (Chemists and Chemistry) | author=George B. Kauffman | publisher=D. Reidel Pub. Co. | place=Dordrecht; Boston; Hingham | pages=272 | year=1986 | isbn=978-9027719263

External links

* [,+Frederick Annotated bibliography for Frederick Soddy from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues]
* [ M. King Hubbert on the Nature of Growth. 1974]

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  • Frederick Soddy — im Jahre 1922. Frederick Soddy (* 2. September 1877 in Eastbourne; † 22. September 1956 in Brighton) war ein englischer Chemiker, Nobelpreisträger und Student von Ernest Rutherford. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Frederick Soddy — en 1922 Frederick Soddy (2 septembre 1877 à Eastbourne, Angleterre 22 septembre 1956 à Brighton, Angleterre) était un radio chimiste britannique, lauréat du prix Nobel de chimie en 1921 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Frederick Soddy — (n. Eastbourne, Inglaterra, 2 de septiembre de 1877 † Brighton, 22 de septiembre de 1956). Químico inglés. Estudió en el Colegio Universitario de Gales y en el Merton College de la Universidad de Oxford. Trabajó como investigador en Oxford de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Frederick Soddy — noun English chemist whose work on radioactive disintegration led to the discovery of isotopes (1877 1956) • Syn: ↑Soddy • Instance Hypernyms: ↑chemist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Chemienobelpreis 1921: Frederick Soddy —   Der britische Wissenschaftler erhielt den Nobelpreis für Chemie für seine Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Chemie radioaktiver Stoffe sowie für Untersuchungen über Vorkommen und Natur der Isotopen.    Biografie   Frederick Soddy, * Eastbourne 2. 9.… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Soddy — Frederick Soddy im Jahre 1922. Frederick Soddy (* 2. September 1877 in Eastbourne; † 22. September 1956 in Brighton) war ein englischer Chemiker, Nobelpreisträger und Student von Ernest Rutherford …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Soddy-Kreis — Frederick Soddy Die Soddy Kreise sind die Lösungen für einen Spezialfall des apollonischen Problems, wobei die drei gegebenen Kreise, deren Mittelpunkte die Ecken eines Dreiecks sind, einander berühren. Sie sind benannt nach Frederick Soddy, der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Frederick — hace referencia a: Frederick Delius, compositor inglés; Frederick Forsyth, escritor británico; Frederick Gowland Hopkins, bioquímico británico, premio Nobel de Medicina en 1929; Frederick Grant Banting, médico canadiense, premio Nobel de Medicina …   Wikipedia Español

  • Soddy's hexlet — [ ellipse.] In geometry, Soddy s hexlet is a chain of six spheres (shown in grey in Figure 1), each of which is tangent to both of its neighbors and also to three mutually tangent given spheres. In Figure 1, these three spheres are shown as an… …   Wikipedia

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