Richards, Theodore

Richards, Theodore (Williams)

(1868–1928) chemist; born in Germantown, Pa. He was affiliated with Harvard from his graduate studies to his death (1885–1928). He had begun by trying to establish precisely the relation of the atomic weights of hydrogen and oxygen, and he devoted the first half of his career to correcting the errors in the accepted atomic weights of 21 elements. It was this work that won him the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1914. He then turned his attention to thermochemistry and thermodynamics, producing not only immense amounts of new data, but also elucidating a number of fundamental properties and processes. Regarded as the foremost experimental chemist of his day, he remains important for establishing the modern era of accuracy in physico-chemical analysis.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.