Frederick Soddy

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Soddy, Frederick

(sŏd`ē), 1877–1956, English chemist. He worked under Lord Rutherford at McGill Univ. and with Sir William Ramsay at the Univ. of London. After serving (1910–14) as lecturer in physical chemistry and radioactivity at the Univ. of Glasgow, he was professor of chemistry at the Univ. of Aberdeen (1914–19) and at Oxford (1919–36). He was especially noted for his research in radioactivity. With others he discovered a relationship between radioactive elements and the parent compound, which led to his theory of isotopes; for this work he won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His scientific books have become classics and include The Interpretation of Radium (1909, rev. ed. 1922), Matter and Energy (1912), The Chemistry of the Radio-Elements (2 parts, 1911–14), and Atomic Transmutation (1953). An advocate of technocracy and of the social credit movement, he wrote several books setting forth his political and economic views.
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Soddy, Frederick


Born Sept. 2, 1877, in Eastbourne; died Sept. 22,1956, in Brighton. British radiochemist. Member of the Royal Society of London (1910).

Soddy graduated from Oxford University in 1896. From 1900 until 1902 he worked under E. Rutherford at McGill University in Montreal, and in 1903 and 1904, under W. Ramsay at University College, London. He taught at the University of Glasgow from 1904 to 1914, and he was a professor at the University of Aberdeen from 1914 to 1919 and at Oxford University from 1919 to 1936.

Together with Rutherford, Soddy proposed the theory of radioactive decay, which served as the basis for the modern study of the atom and atomic energy. In 1903, Rutherford and Soddy established that radioactive decay proceeds in accordance with a law describing the rate of a monomolecular reaction. Together with Ramsay, Soddy detected spectroscopically the formation of helium from radon. Attempts to place the numerous radioactive products of the transformation of uranium and thorium in the periodic system of elements of D. I. Mendeleev proved successful with Soddy’s introduction of the concept of isotopes. In 1913, Soddy and K. Fajans, independently of each other, formulated the displacement law, which permitted a prediction of the place in the periodic system of elements that are products of radioactive decay. In 1915, Soddy proved experimentally that radium is formed from uranium. The mineral soddyite (uranium silicate) was named in his honor.

Soddy received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1921. He was named a foreign corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1924.


Radio-activity. London, 1904.
Matter and Energy. London [1912].
The Story of Atomic Energy. London, 1949.
Khimiia radioelementov: St. Petersburg, 1913. (Translated from English.)
Radii i stroenie atoma. Moscow [1924]. (Translated from English.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.