Remembered for his contributions in the field of radiochemistry and the discovery of isotopes, Frederick Soddy won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1921.
Frederick Soddy was born in Eastbourne, Sussex England. He was the son of a London merchant and spent his early years at Eastbourne College; this was followed by further education at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth and education at Merton College.
Soddy went on to become a researcher at Oxford from 1898 to 1900. This was followed by tenure as a Demonstrator in the department of Chemistry at McGill University Montreal. This was followed by posts at various universities. His last post was at the University of Oxford between 1919 and 1937.
It was here that Soddy teamed up with Ernest Rutherford and did work on radioactivity. Both of them were able to identify that radioactive elements have an anomalous behaviour because they decayed into another element. It is this decay that generates alpha beta and gamma radiation.
Soddy & Rutherford identified that radioactive elements have an anomalous behaviour because they decayed into another element.
Later in 1903 Soddy with the help of Sir William Ramsay proved that the decay of radium produced alpha particles. These alpha particles consisted of positively charged nuclei of helium. In the following year at Glasgow, Soddy proved that uranium decayed into radium. It was during his time at the University of Glasgow that Soddy did a lot of his practical work on radioactive materials. After his tenure at Glasgow, Soddy’s interest was drawn to economic, political and social theories. He became interested in mathematical and mechanical problems.
Soddy defined the isotope. He explained how an element can exist in two or more forms. He also stated how an atom tends to have a lower atomic number by two places when it emits alpha rays, yet at the same time it has a higher atomic number by one place on beta emission.