Glenn Seaborg was born in Ishpeming, Michigan on April 19th, 1912. He was an American scientist who had a Scottish lineage. He won the Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1951 for his many discoveries in the field of Transuranium metals. He has many things named after him from the element Seaborgium to an asteroid called 4856 Seaborg.
During his childhood, Seaborg was an avid sports fan, whose other favourite pastime was watching movies. He was initially interested in literature and only looked at science as a career after his junior school teacher inspired him to.
Seaborg graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1934. While at University, he met Albert Einstein which was a profound experience for him. Seaborg finished his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He conducted a lot of research on artificial radioactivity while at Berkeley.
Research in nuclear chemistry and The Manhattan Project
Seaborg contributed to the discovery of over a hundred isotopes of various elements. In 1937 Seaborg along with John Livingood, and Fred Fairbrother discovered (Fe-59) an isotope of iron. Seaborg was part of the team which succeeded in isolating element 94, which is now known as plutonium. In 1941, Seaborg isolated Uranium-223 and he demonstrated that thorium had nuclear fuel potential.
The most significant change in the periodic table of today from Medeleev’s periodic table is the formation of actinide series. Seaborg formed this actinide concept, within the span of 1944 and 1958 Seaborg discovered eight elements namely, americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, nobelium and element 106, Seaborgium which is named after him.
The most significant change in the periodic table of today from Medeleev’s periodic table is the formation of actinide series.
He won the Nobel Prize in 1951 for discovering these trasuranium elements. Seaborg was also a leading force behind the Manhattan Project where he and his group of scientists created the world’s first controlled nuclear chain reaction by converting uranium-238 into plutonium.
Later years and work with the Atomic Energy Commission
After completing the Manhattan Project at the end of World War II, Seaborg was keen on continuing his research at the university without restrictions and secrecy. Between 1958 and 1961 Seaborg served as chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley. Seaborg was then appointed as a member of the general advisory board of the Atomic Energy Commission by President Truman.
During this time he was also appointed the chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission by President Kennedy where he did a lot of good work such as the negotiation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty which aims at banning the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. He also pushed for the approval of commercial nuclear energy and for the safe use of nuclear energy. Seaborg advised ten presidents right from President Truman to President Clinton on the subject of nuclear policy.
Recognition and awards
Glenn Seaborg won a variety of awards and honours. In fact he won so many that he was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the person with the longest entry in the book ‘Who’s Who in America’.
To name a few things he did, Seaborg received at least fifty honorary doctorates from various universities. He was named one of the ten outstanding young men in America in 1947 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. He also received the American Chemical Society's Award in Pure Chemistry in 1947, Gold Plate Award, Academy of Achievement, 1972, American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal Award, 1973, French Legion of Honour, 1973, Priestley Medal, presented by the American Chemical Society, 1979 and The Great Swedish Heritage Award in 1984. Seaborg has many things named after him right from the element Seaborgium to an asteroid called 4856 Seaborg.