Harold Urey

Physicist, Academic

1893 – 1981

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Who was Harold Urey?

Harold Clayton Urey was an American physical chemist whose pioneering work on isotopes earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934 for the discovery of deuterium. He played a significant role in the development of the atom bomb, but may be most prominent for his contribution to theories on the development of organic life from non-living matter.

Born in Walkerton, Indiana, Urey studied thermodynamics under Gilbert N. Lewis at the University of California. After he received his PhD in 1923, he was awarded a fellowship by the American-Scandinavian Foundation to study at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. He was a research associate at Johns Hopkins University before becoming an associate professor of Chemistry at Columbia University. In 1931, he began work with the separation of isotopes that resulted in the discovery of deuterium.

During World War II Urey turned his knowledge of isotope separation to the problem of uranium enrichment. He headed the group located at Columbia University that developed isotope separation using gaseous diffusion. The method was successfully developed, becoming the sole method used in the early post-war period.

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Born
Apr 29, 1893
Walkerton
Also known as
  • Harold Clayton Urey
  • Harold C. Urey
Parents
Spouses
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Education
  • Columbia University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Montana
Employment
  • University of Chicago
Died
Jan 5, 1981
La Jolla

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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