Richards, Theodore William

Richards, Theodore William,

1868–1928, American chemist, b. Germantown, Pa., Ph.D. Harvard, 1888. Richards was a professor at Harvard from 1891 until his death in 1928. In 1914 he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for accurately determining the atomic weights of more than 25 chemical elements and ascertaining the existence of isotopesisotope
, in chemistry and physics, one of two or more atoms having the same atomic number but differing in atomic weight and mass number. The concept of isotope was introduced by F.
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, chemical elements that have the same atomic number and position in the periodic table but different atomic masses and physical properties. He is credited with making significant improvements to the methods used for determining atomic weights.
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Richards, Theodore William


Born Jan. 31, 1868, in Germantown, Pa.; died Apr. 2, 1928, in Cambridge, Mass. American chemist.

Richards became a professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., in 1901. In the years 1888–1923, he made an extremely precise determination, using a method which he himself had devised, of the atomic weights of 25 elements. In 1902 he experimentally corroborated Faraday’s laws. In 1913 he discovered that the atomic weight of the Pb obtained from uranium ores differs from that of the Pb obtained from thorium ores. This difference was one of the first demonstrations of the existence of isotopes. Richards was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1914.


Determinations of Atomic Weights of Silver, Lithium and Chlorine. Washington, D.C., 1910. (With H. H. Willard.)


Hartley, H. “Theodore William Richards Memorial Lecture.” Journal of the Chemical Society, 1930, part 2, pp. 1937–69.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.