Harrison Brown

Physicist, Author

1917 – 1986


Who was Harrison Brown?

Harrison Brown was an American physicist and geochemist. In 1941 he received a doctorate in nuclear chemistry from the Johns Hopkins University.

In 1942 Glenn T. Seaborg invited Brown to work with him at the University of Chicago in the Metallurgical Laboratories, working on ways to separate plutonium from uranium. With Orville Hill, Brown devised a successful method of achieving this by using the gaseous evaporation of fluorides. He moved with some of his colleagues to the Oak Ridge, Tennessee to work with the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Clinton Engineer Works. Brown joined the Manhattan Project as a team supervisor and went on to become the first to successfully isolate gram quantities of plutonium. The techniques discovered by the team proved to be the groundwork for those used at the Hanford Site which provided the plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Just four months later he completed Must Destruction Be Our Destiny?, a book detailing the dangers of nuclear weapons.

Brown returned to the University of Chicago to work as an assistant professor of Chemistry in the Institute for Nuclear Studies in 1946. He was joined by some of his former colleagues from the Manhattan Project and together they became the first team to study nuclear geochemistry. Brown went on to study meteorites and planetary structures along with ways to date the Earth, encouraging Clair Cameron Patterson to investigate the isotopic composition of an iron meteorite. Patterson's studies eventually led to the first close approximation of the age of the Earth and the solar system. In 1948 Brown was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science prize for his work on meteorites.

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Sep 26, 1917
Also known as
  • Harrison Scott Brown
  • United States of America
  • PhD, Johns Hopkins University
    Nuclear chemistry
    ( - 1941)
Lived in
  • Albuquerque
    (1983 - 1986/12/08)
Dec 8, 1986

on July 23, 2013


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