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Glenn T. Seaborg

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Glenn T. Seaborg

Glenn T. Seaborg
Born Glenn Theodore Seaborg
(1912-04-19)April 19, 1912
Ishpeming, Michigan
Died February 25, 1999(1999-02-25) (aged 86)
Lafayette, California
Nationality United States
Fields Nuclear chemistry
Alma mater
  • UCLA
  • University of California, Berkeley
Doctoral advisor
Doctoral students
Known for his contributions and he was part of a team to the synthesis, discovery and investigation of ten transuranium elements
Notable awards

Glenn Theodore Seaborg (; 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.[1] 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 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: 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, most notably 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 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 1
  • Pioneering work in nuclear chemistry 2
  • Scientific contributions during the Manhattan Project 3
  • Professor and Chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley 4
  • Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission 5
  • Return to California 6
  • Personal life 7
  • Honors and awards 8
  • Selected Bibliography 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13

Early life

Glenn Theodore Seaborg was born in 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".[3]

Seaborg kept a daily journal from 1927 until he suffered a stroke in 1998.[4] 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 [5]

Seaborg graduated from Jordan in 1929 at the top of his class and received a bachelor of arts (AB) degree in chemistry at the [7] in which he coined the term "nuclear spallation".[8]

Seaborg was a member of the professional chemistry fraternity [12]

Seaborg also became an expert in dealing with noted Berkeley physicist [13]

Pioneering work in nuclear chemistry

Seaborg in his lab

Seaborg remained at the University of California, Berkeley, for post-doctoral research. He followed

  • Biography and Bibliographic Resources, from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, United States Department of Energy
  • National Academy of Sciences biography
  • Annotated bibliography for Glenn Seaborg from the Alsos Digital Library
  • Works by or about Glenn T. Seaborg in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Nobel Institute Official Biography
  • UC Berkeley Biography of Chancellor Glenn T. Seaborg
  • Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's Glenn T. Seaborg website
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, List of Presidents
  • Glenn Seaborg Trail, at Department of Energy official site
  • Glenn T. Seaborg Center at Northern Michigan University
  • Glenn T. Seaborg Medal and Symposium at the University of California, Los Angeles
  • The Woodrow Wilson Center's Nuclear Proliferation International History Project or NPIHP is a global network of individuals and institutions engaged in the study of international nuclear history through archival documents, oral history interviews and other empirical sources.

External links

  • Patrick Coffey, Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry, Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-532134-0

Further reading

  • Hoffman, D. C. (2007). "Glenn Theodore Seaborg 19 April 1912 — 25 February 1999".  
  • Seaborg, G. T.; Seaborg, E. (2001). Adventures in the Atomic Age: From Watts to Washington. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  


  1. ^ a b "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1951".  
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Hoffman 2007, p. 330.
  4. ^ Hoffman 2007, p. 336.
  5. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, pp. 13–14.
  6. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, pp. 15, 29.
  7. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, p. 40.
  8. ^ a b "Scientific and Luminary Biography - Glenn Seaborg".  
  9. ^ Lewis, G. N.; Seaborg, Glenn T. (July 1939). "Primary and secondary acids and bases". Journal of the American Chemical Society 61 (7): 1886–1894.  
  10. ^ Lewis, G. N.; Seaborg, Glenn T. (July 1939). "Trinitrotriphenylmethide ion as a secondary and primary base.". Journal of the American Chemical Society 61 (7): 1894–1900.  
  11. ^ Lewis, G. N.; Seaborg, Glenn T. (August 1940). "The acidity of aromatic nitro compounds toward amines. The effect of double chelation". Journal of the American Chemical Society 62 (8): 2122–2124.  
  12. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, pp. 57–59.
  13. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, p. 26.
  14. ^ Heilbron, J. L.; Seidel, R. W. (1989), Lawrence and His Laboratory: A History of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory – Volume I,  
  15. ^ "National Award of Nuclear Science & History".  
  16. ^ "Seaborg Timeline: A Lifetime of Differences".  
  17. ^ Jackson, D. J.; Panofsky, W. K. H. (1996). Edwin Mattison McMillan. Biographical Memoirs 69.  
  18. ^ a b Farmer, Delphine (2001). "An Elementary Problem". Berkeley Science Review 1 (1): 32–37.  
  19. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, pp. 77–79.
  20. ^ Seaborg, Glenn T. "Nuclear Milestones: 307 Gilman Hall".  
  21. ^ "Glenn Seaborg's Greatest Hits".  
  22. ^ Rhodes 1986, pp. 320, 340–43, 348, 354, 369, 377, 395.
  23. ^ Hoffman 2007, pp. 333-334.
  24. ^ a b Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, pp. 174–179.
  25. ^ House, P. (April 1999). "Glenn T. Seaborg: Citizen-Scholar". The Seaborg Center Bulletin. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  26. ^ Seaborg, G. T.; Colvig, R. (1994). Chancellor at Berkeley.  
  27. ^ a b Yarris, Lynn (March 5, 1999). "Glenn Seaborg: A Sporting Life". Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Glenn Seaborg Biography".  
  29. ^ "National Service". Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Retrieved July 23, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Space Sciences Laboratory".  
  31. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, p. 181.
  32. ^ "Meet Glenn Seaborg".  
  33. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, pp. 200-206.
  34. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, pp. 218-221.
  35. ^ Seaborg, G. T. (1969). "Prospects for further considerable extension of the periodic table".  
  36. ^ "Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg".  
  37. ^ a b "Meet Glenn Seaborg".  
  38. ^ "Glenn Seaborg's Works".  
  39. ^ "ACS President: Glenn T. Seaborg (1912-1999)".  
  40. ^ Aleklett, K.; Morrissey, D.; Loveland, W.; McGaughey, P.; Seaborg, G. (1981). "Energy dependence of 209Bi fragmentation in relativistic nuclear collisions".  
  41. ^ Matthews, Robert (2 December 2, 2001). "The Philosopher's Stone".  
  42. ^ Yarris, L. (5 March 1999). "Glenn Seaborg, Teacher and Educator".  
  43. ^ "A Nation at Risk’ Turns 30: Where Did It Take Us?".  
  44. ^  
  45. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, pp. 193-194.
  46. ^ Seaborg & Seaborg 2001, pp. 79-85.
  47. ^ Hoffman 2007, p. 332.
  48. ^ "Glenn Seaborg Trail".  
  49. ^ Hoffman 2007, p. 335.
  50. ^ Hoffman 2007, p. 337.
  51. ^ Hoffman 2007, p. 334.
  52. ^ "Glenn T. Seaborg No. 719 Vasa Order of America".  
  53. ^ Hoffman, D. C.; Ghiorso, A.; Seaborg, G. T. (2000). "The Transuranium People: The Inside Story".  
  54. ^ "Glenn Seaborg Tribute: A Man in Full".  
  55. ^ a b c "Seaborgium: Element 106 Named in Honor of Glenn T. Seaborg, LBL's Associate Director At Large". LBL Research Review. August 1994.  
  56. ^ "Glenn Theodore Seaborg - A Register of His Papers in the Library of Congress".  
  57. ^ Winters, J. (1 January 1998). "What's in a Name?".  
  58. ^  


  • Seaborg, G. T.; James, R.A.; Morgan, L.O. (January 1948). The New Element Americium (Atomic Number 95).  
  • Seaborg, G. T.; James, R.A.; Ghiorso, A. (January 1948). The New Element Curium (Atomic Number 96).  
  • Seaborg, G. T.; Thompson, S.G.; Ghiorso, A. (April 1950). The New Element Berkelium (Atomic Number 97).  
  • Seaborg, G. T.; Thompson, S.G.; Street, K. Jr.; Ghiroso, A. (June 1950). The New Element Californium (Atomic Number 98).  
  • Seaborg, G. T. (December 1951). The Transuranium Elements – Present Status: Nobel Lecture.  
  • Seaborg, G. T.; Thompson, S.G.; Harvey, B.G.; Choppin, G.R. (July 1954). Chemical Properties of Elements 99 and 100 (Einsteinium and Fermium).  
  • Seaborg, G. T. (September 1967). The First Weighing of Plutonium.  
  • Seaborg, G. T. (July 1970). Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy: A Collection of Speeches.  
  • Seaborg, G. T., ed. (January 1980). Symposium Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Discovery of Mendelevium.  
  • Seaborg, G. T. (August 1990). Transuranium Elements: a Half Century.  
  • Seaborg, G. T. (March 1995). My career as a radioisotope hunter.  

Selected Bibliography

The element seaborgium was named after Seaborg by [55][58]

During his lifetime, Seaborg is said to have been the author or co-author of numerous books and 500 scientific journal articles, many of them brief reports on fast-breaking discoveries in nuclear science while other subjects, most notably the actinide concept, represented major theoretical contributions in the [37] His papers are in the Library of Congress.[56]

Honors and awards

On August 24, 1998, while in Boston to attend a meeting by the American Chemical Society, Seaborg suffered a stroke, which led to his death six months later on February 25, 1999, at his home in Lafayette.[54]

Seaborg kept a close bond to his Swedish origin. He visited Sweden every so often, and his family were members of the Swedish Pemer Genealogical Society, a family association open for every descendant of the Pemer family, a Swedish family with German origin, from which Seaborg was descended on his mother's side.[53]

[52] Seaborg was elected a foreign member of the

There is a beauty in discovery. There is mathematics in music, a kinship of science and poetry in the description of nature, and exquisite form in a molecule. Attempts to place different disciplines in different camps are revealed as artificial in the face of the unity of knowledge. All literate men are sustained by the philosopher, the historian, the political analyst, the economist, the scientist, the poet, the artisan and the musician.

Glenn Seaborg [50]

Seaborg was an avid hiker. Upon becoming Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1961, he commenced taking daily hikes through a trail that he blazed at the headquarters site in Contra Costa County all the way to the California-Nevada border.[48][49]

[47] In 1942, Seaborg married

Personal life

Seaborg lived most of his later life in [45]

Seaborg with Vice President Al Gore in the White House during a visit of the 1993 Science Talent Search (STS) finalists on March 4, 1993
A Nation at Risk delivered a wake up call for our education system. It described stark realities like a significant number of functionally illiterate high schoolers, plummeting student performance, and international competitors breathing down our necks. It was a warning, a reproach, and a call to arms.[44]
wrote that Margaret Spellings In 2008, [43] which focused national attention on education as a national issue germane to the federal government.[42]",A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational ReformIn 1983, President

In 1980, he Philosopher's Stone.[40][41]

Following his service as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Seaborg returned to UC Berkeley where he was awarded the position of University Professor. At the time, there had been fewer University Professors at UC Berkeley than Nobel Prize winners. He also served as Chairman of the Lawrence Hall of Science where he became the principal investigator for Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS)[38] working with director American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1972 and as President of the American Chemical Society in 1976.[39]

Seaborg (right) with marine biologist Dixy Lee Ray on September 17, 1968

Return to California

Seaborg published several books and journal articles during his tenure at the Atomic Energy Commission. He predicted the existence of elements beyond those on the period table,[35] the [37]

Seaborg enjoyed a close relationship with President [34]

While chairman of the AEC, Seaborg participated on the negotiating team for the Nikita Khrushchev as he signed the treaty.[32]

President Kennedy and his Atomic Energy Commission Chairman, Glenn Seaborg

After appointment by President [31]

Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission

Seaborg served on the [29] In 1959, he helped found the Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory with Clark Kerr.[30]

Seaborg was an enthusiastic supporter of Cal's sports teams. San Francisco columnist Cal Bears won their first and only National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball championship in 1959, while he was chancellor. The football team also won the conference title and played in the Rose Bowl that year.[27] He served on the Faculty Athletic Committee for several years and was the co-author of a book, Roses from the Ashes: Breakup and Rebirth in Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Athletics (2000), concerning the Pacific Coast Conference recruiting scandal, and the founding of what is now the Pac-12, in which he played a role in restoring confidence in the integrity of collegiate sports.[27][28]

Seaborg served as [24]

After the conclusion of World War II and the Manhattan Project, Seaborg was eager to return to academic life and university research free from the restrictions of wartime secrecy. In 1946, he added to his responsibilities as a professor by heading the nuclear chemistry research at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory operated by the University of California on behalf of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Seaborg was named one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Men in America" by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1947 (along with National Academy of Sciences in 1948. From 1954 to 1961 he served as associate director of the radiation laboratory. He was appointed by President Truman to serve as a member of the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission, an assignment he retained until 1960.[23]

Seaborg (second from left) during Operation Plumbob

Professor and Chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley

Seaborg's theoretical development of the Franck Report (secret at the time but since published) unsuccessfully calling on President Truman to conduct a public demonstration of the atomic bomb witnessed by the Japanese.[22]

On April 19, 1942, Seaborg reached Chicago and joined the chemistry group at the Clinton Engineering Works in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and then entered full-scale production at the Hanford Engineer Works, in Richland, Washington.[21]

Scientific contributions during the Manhattan Project

In addition to plutonium, he is credited as a lead discoverer of Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1951 with Edwin McMillan for "their discoveries in the chemistry of the first transuranium elements."[1]

In February 1941, Seaborg and his collaborators produced National Historic Landmark.[20]

[18] University of California, Berkeley, physicist [16] In 1939 he became an instructor in chemistry at Berkeley, was promoted to assistant professor in 1941 and professor in 1945.


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