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  • ID: I11490
  • Name: Frederick SODDY
  • Given Name: Frederick
  • Surname: Soddy
  • Suffix: FRS
  • Title: FRS
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 2 SEP 1877 in Eastbourne (Sussex) England
  • Death: 22 SEP 1956 in Brighton (Sussex) England.
  • Note:
    Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1921. (The 1921 prize was awarded to him in 1922)
    "for his contributions to our knowledge of the chemistry of radioactive substances, and his investigations into the origin and nature of isotopes"

    Dwelling: 6 Bolton Rd : Eastbourne, Sussex, England
    Name . . . MarriedState Age Sex Birthplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Relationship Occupation
    Benjamin SODDY . .W .58 . M . .London, Middlesex, England . Head . . . Corn Merchant
    Lydia E. SODDY . . .U . 27 . F . . Walworth, Surrey, England . . .Daur. . . . . . . . . . .
    John W. SODDY . . . . . . 8 . .M . . Walworth, Surrey, England . . . Son . . . . .Scholar
    Joseph SODDY . . . . . . .6 . .M . . Walworth, Surrey, England . . . Son . . . . .Scholar
    Thomas E. SODDY. . . . 5 . .M . . Walworth, Surrey, England . . . Son
    Margaret ROBERTS W 72 F Tuxford, Nottingham, England . .Serv .Cook Domestic Ser
    Mercy RELF . . . . . .U . 24 .F Wadhurst, Sussex, England . . . Serv .Nurse Domestic Ser
    Eliza J. ROBERTS . U . 14 .F.Lambeth, Surrey, England . . . Serv . . General Servant
    Frederick SODDY . .U. . .3 . M . Eastbourne, Sussex, England . .Son

    Dwelling: 243 Walworth Road Census Place Newington, Surrey, England
    Source: FHL Film 1341125 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 0550 Folio 10 Page 18
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . .MarrAgeSexBirthplace
    Benjamin SODDY . M 25 M Newington, Surrey, England Rel:Head Occ:Corn & Flour Merchant
    Mary SODDY . . . . M 23 F Eastbourne, Sussex, England Rel: Wife Occ:-
    Gilbert B SODDY . .2 m M Newington, Surrey, England Rel:Son Occ:-
    James SODDY . . . U 23 M Newington, Surrey, England Rel:Brother Occ:Corn Merchant
    Caroline ISARD . . U 22 F Eastbourne, Sussex, England Rel:Visitor
    Eliza HEITMAN . . .U 21 F Chelsea, Middlesex, England Rel:Servant Occ:General Servant (Dom)

    Frederick Soddy, the son of Benjamin Soddy, a London merchant, was born at Eastbourne on September 2, 1877. He was educated at Eastbourne College and the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. In 1895 he received a Post obtained a scholarship at Merton College, Oxford, from which University he graduated in 1898 with first class honours in chemistry. After two years of research at Oxford he went to Canada and from 1900 to 1902 was Demonstrator in the Chemistry Department of McGill University, Montreal.

    Here at McGill, as a chemist, Soddy worked with the New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford (six years his senior) on problems of radioactivity. They collaborated to investigate the radioactive gas emanation from Thorium discovered by Rutherford. After showing that high temperature had no effect on the rate of production, they cooled the substance and condensed liquid Radon. The two men published a series of papers on radioactivity and concluded that it was a phenomenon involving atomic disintegration with the formation of new kinds of matter. They proposed a theory of radioactivity in 1902 to describe the spontaneous disintegration of radioactive elements into new elements at a rate characteristic for each element. Soddy called this transmutation, borrowing the term from alchemy. Soddy and Rutherford proposed two decay series, one starting with Uranium ending with Lead, and the other starting with Thorium (Ionium) and also ending in Lead. They realized that a large amount of energy is involved in radioactive decay, and Soddy thought there might be practical uses if a way could be found to rapidly release the energy.

    In 1903 Soddy left Canada to work with William Ramsay at University College, London where he continued the study of radium emanation. Seeing Radium for sale in a shop window, Soddy bought 20 mg and they found that pure Radium produces a Helium spectra. Soddy concluded that Helium came from alpha rays. So Soddy and Ramsay were able to demonstrate spectroscopically that the element helium was produced in the radioactive decay of a sample of radium bromide and that helium was evolved in the decay or emanation. This led popular science writer W.A.Shenstone to speculate about the possibilities for transmutation of elements in Cornhill Magazine in November 1903. [In 1910 William Ramsay and Robert Whytlaw Gray measured the density of Radon, the heaviest member of the inert gases, establishing its atomic mass.]

    In 1904 Soddy was found a place at Glasgow -a city then at the height of its prosperity and a centre of education and industry with which Ramsey had close connections. From 1904 to 1914 Soddy was lecturer in physical chemistry and radioactivity in the University of Glasgow. Staying at the house of George Beilby, one of the outstanding industrial chemists of this era, in University Gardens. ln 1908, Soddy was to marry Beilby's scientist daughter Winifred. In the Glasgow University laboratory across the road Soddy did much practical chemical work on radioactive materials. During this period he evolved the so-called "Displacement Law", namely that emission of an alpha-particle from an element causes that element to move back two places in the Periodic Table. His peak was reached in 1913 in formulating the concept of isotopes, the idea that certain elements exist in two or more forms which have different atomic weights but which are indistinguishable chemically. The word "isotope" was suggested to him by the Beilby's friend medical novelist Margaret Todd (companion and biographer of Sophia Jex-Blake) as a way to describe the atoms of a chemical element with the same atomic number and position in the periodic table and near-identical chemical behaviour but different atomic masses and physical properties.

    Soddy's classic paper on The Radio-elements and the Periodic Law was communicated to Chemical News 107, 97-9 (1913) from the Physical Chemistry Laboratory at Glasgow University on February 18, 1913. In his so-called "Displacement Law", evolved in his Glasgow researches, Soddy proposed that an element emitting an alpha particle is transmuted into the element two spaces to the left on the periodic table, whereas an element emitting a beta particle is transmuted into the element immediately to the right. These rules opened a way to understand the decay series, linking with Soddy's proposal of isotopes to explain differing atomic weights for samples of the same element produced by different forms of decay. For these contributions to the understanding of radioactive decay and isotopes he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

    Earlier, in 1914, he'd been appointed Professor of Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen, but plans for research were hampered by the war. In 1919 Soddy had became Dr. Lees Professor of Chemistry in his old university at Oxford, a post he held until 1937 when he retired, on the death of his wife. In September 1921, travelling as a King's Messenger, he famously brought the largest quantity of radium into the country from Prague, arriving at Victoria Station. It was a task of great responsibility and danger, bearing in mind what the press called radium's "malignant penetrative properties". The 2 gram consignment in 9 glass phials was packed in a lead case 3 inches thick weighing about 70 pounds and carried in an ordinary Foreign Office bag, sealed by an official of the Czecho-Slovak government. The intended recipient was the Imperial and Foreign Corporation of London, a British state holding umbrella for extensive Russian and other overseas financial uncertainties at that time. It was most notably also the organisation which uunder the technical direction of Frederick Handley-Page was disposing of tens of thousands of world war aircraft, engines and parts, taking up a large part of Regents Park in the process. Here is how the Nottingham Evening Post described the original agreement on 17 September 1921:

    "BRITISH MONOPOLY OF RADIUM. IMPORTANT DEAL WITH CZECHOSLOVAKIA. After prolonged negotiations, Mr. Sidney Reilly, behalf of the Imperial and Foreign Corporation London, has signed an agreement with the Czeobo-Slovak Government for a monopoly cf the entire output of radium from the Czecho-Slovak State mines. The basis of bhe contract that the radium mines remain the property Czecho-Slovakia, but will be farmed out to the Corporation for a number of years. This event is of importance, because Czecho-Slovakia possesses practically the only radium mines in Europe. The present market price of radium 35,000 (sterling) per gramme. "

    A week later, on 26 September the same paper had this to say
    FIRST RADIUM "CARGO." TWO GRAMMES, WORTH 70,000, ARRIVE LONDON. Professor Soddy, Oxford University, has arrived in London from Paris with the first consignment to this country radium from the deposits Joachim-thai, Czecho-Skyvakia. The amount two grammes, worth about, 70,000. On receipt will be placed in the laboratory at Oxford. The transport radium is a difficult, even dangerous matter. It is necessary to place a leaden box weighing 701b. protect the manipulator against its penetrating rays. It mi arranged that Professor Seddv should travel from Paris to England in special cabin on the boat, and in special special train shore, his progress being faoili<*- in every possible manner. . _ The agreement between the Government of and the Imperial and Foreign Corporation was only signed about a wee* ago, and the deal triumph for British and Czeeho- enterprise. Credit due bo Mr. Herbert Cuedalla, General Rp* *. Mr. Sidney Reilly, who have worked with zeal bring about the arrangement which gives Great Britain access to the greatest radium deposits Europe " England," said the professor. is very lucky in securing this great scientific prize. This country is to have the use * loan L 5 years, when it will returned Czechoslovakia."

    And here is how the journal Science described Frederick and Winifred Soddy's radium transfer in October 1921:
    DR. FREDERICK SODDY, professor of chemistry in Oxford University, travelling as a King's Messenger, has arrived in London from Prague, bringing with him the largest quantity of radium, valued at about 70,000, ever brought into England. The consignment consists of two grams and is the first
    to be received under the terms of the recent agreement between the Imperial and Foreign
    Corporation of London and the Czecho-Slovakia Government. The radium was deposited at the Foreign Office and will remain there for the time being, its exact future, according to Professor Soddy, being a matter for negotiation.
    Professor Soddy is reported in the London Times from which we obtain this information to have said that while on holiday with his wife in Czecho-Slovakia he visited the Joachimsthal mines and was given every facility for inspecting them and the various processes by which the radium was extracted from the uranium obtained in the mines. The agreement mentioned above having been concluded, he was asked by the Corporation, to whom he is the expert scientific adviser, to make
    arrangements for the transport of the radium to England, a task of considerable responsibility
    and some danger, in view of its malignant penetrative properties. The two grams were distributed in nine glass phials, packed in a lead case 3 in. thick and weighing about 70 lb. This was contained in an ordinary Foreign Office dispatch-bag, which was finally sealed by an official of the Czecho-Slovakia Government.
    " I am sure," Professor Soddy added, "that this radium will be an enormous help to British science and medicine. It is of exceptionally pure quality. The cry of the medical profession has hitherto been, 'We can not get enough.' The greatest amount I have so far ever had to work with has been
    30 milligrams. There will be more shipments of radium from Czechoslovakia, but not necessarily to England."
    It was explained that the radium will be lent freely for hospital purposes, and rented out to private practitioners. It will also be used for the production and sale of radioactive water in bottles, for use at radio-sanitoria, the production and sale of radio-active fertilizers, and for its by-products, such as polonium. The company expects to derive its first profits from the renting out of the radium emanations contained in capillary tubes, the price for the use of which at present is six
    guineas for 24 hours. One gram of radium supplies 4,500 of such tubes.
    The Czecho-Slovak Legation in London has made public the following in regard to the contract entered into by the Czecho-Slovak Government, as the owners of the Radium State Mines in Jachymov (Joachimsthal), and the Imperial and Foreign Corporation of London: Under this contract the Radium Corporation of Czecho-Slovakia, a private limited company, has been established, the Czecho-Slovak state and the Imperial and Foreign Corporation holding equal interests. The Radium Corporation will obtain the loan for a period of 15 years of the radium production of the state mines, less a certain portion which is to be reserved for public use, especially for curative and scientific purposes. The radium so lent to the Corporation will remain the property of the Czecho-Slovak state.
    The contract does not contain anything relative to the working of the radium mines, which will be.
    as before, exploited by -the Czecho-Slovak state."

    Soddy's role was probably sanctioned not so much by Curzon the Foreign Secretary as by Prime Minister Lloyd George and his Trade Secretary and Chancellor of ther Exchequer Sir Robert Horne who was MP for Glasgow Hillhead and a former Rector of Aberdeen University. Lloyd George and Horne had with the Soviet side arranged the controversial Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement from beginnings early in 1920 to final signature in March 1921, with help from Philip Lothian and Fridtjof Nansen, and in some ways the ambitious plans for Aircraft Disposal and the Radium Corporation could be seen as a follow-on, as there was now prospect of clearing some of the Russian debts to British creditors assigned to Imperial and Foreign.

    Curzon, the Foreign Secretary, did not enjoy the Prime Minister's support at this time. Lloyd George thought him pompous and self-important, and it was said that he used him as if he were using a Rolls-Royce to deliver a parcel to the station.

    After his period at Glasgow he did little further work in radioactivity and allowed the later developments to pass him by. His interest was diverted to economic, social and political theories which gained no general acceptance, and to unusual mathematical and mechanical problems.

    His books include Radioactivity (1904), The Interpretation of Radium (1909), The Chemistry of the Radioactive Elements (1912-1914), Matter and Energy (1912), Science and Life (1920), The Interpretation of the Atom (1932), The Story of Atomic Energy (1949), and Atomic Transmutation (1953). Soddy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1910 and Oxford awarded him an honorary degree. He was awarded the Albert Medal in 1951. He was a man of strong principles and obstinate views, friendly with students and prickly with colleagues.
    He died on September 22, 1956 at Brighton.

    From the paper Uranium's Scientific History 1789 - 1939 presented by Dr. Bertrand Goldschmidt at the Uranium Institute in London, September 1989.

    "Pierre Curie had measured the energy which is spontaneously and continuously produced by radium. To explain this phenomenon he suggested either that radium captured and re-emitted energy from outer space, or that it was due to a continuous and profound modification of the radium atom. He concluded that if the latter hypothesis was valid, 'the energy involved in the transformation of the atom is considerable'.

    "Rutherford and Soddy later confirmed this conclusion, and Soddy became the first to popularize visions of the good or evil which could result from harnessing the forces present in the heart of matter. He contrasted rose-coloured visions of the creation of paradise on earth and the eradication of deserts and ice-caps, thanks to unlimited resources of cheap energy, with dark nightmares of the destruction of cities and civilization under a hail of radioactive bombs. Sometimes the one followed the other and a happy and united world emerged from the ruins of war, a scenario which inspired the science fiction writer HGWells in his novel The World Set Free, written in 1913.

    "In this novel, full of astonishing predictions, Wells is the first to speak of 'atomic bombs', which are used in a European conflict set in 1956 called 'The Last War', followed by a peace conference, set at Lake Maggiore in Italy, where a new world is organized in which humanity enjoys in everlasting peace the many benefits of atomic energy.

    "At the start of the book, a university professor gives the following explanation to his pupils.
    'This little box contains about a pint of uranium oxide; that is to say about fourteen ounces of the element uranium. It is worth a pound. And in this bottle, ladies and gentlemen, in the atoms in this bottle there slumbers at least as much energy as we could get by burning a hundred and sixty tons of coal. If at a word, in one instant, I could suddenly release that energy here and now it would blow us and everything about us to fragments; if I could turn it into the machinery that lights this city, it could keep Edinburgh brightly lit for a week. But at present no man has an inkling of how this little lump of stuff can be made to hasten the release of its store.' "

    footnotes on the Imperial & Foreign Corporation
    Western Times Tues 9 April 1912
    Lord Balfour of Burleigh. Mr. Austen Chamberlain, and other directors of the Imperial and Foreign Corporation, arrived at St. Petersburg yesterday. Lord Balfour and Mr. Austen Chamberlain are residing at the British Embassy, where the Russian Foreign Ministers were dining last night.

    Western Times Thu 25 July 1912
    The Imperial & Foreign Corporation is taking over the Anglo French Mercantile & Finance Corporation Ltd. The following are listed as Directors of Imperial & Foreign [with my notes]:
    Rt Hon Austen Chamberlain PC MP
    J S Harmood Banner MP, Liverpool [MP for Everton, leading accountant, Lord Mayor of Liverpool]
    A[lfred] H[enry] S[eddon] Cripps JP Barrister At Law
    H Rimington Wilson, Colchester
    J[ames] D[alison] Alexander [banker & East India agent]
    Herbert Guedalla
    E Fontaine de Laveleye, Banque Fontaine et Cie
    Ian Heathcoat Amory JP, Tiverton

    Derby Daily Telegraph 2 December 1919 Imperial & Foreign Corporation undertook to undeerwrite the share issue of Buchanan-Dewar, or Scotch Whisky Brands

    Derby Daily Telegraph 12 January 1920 Imperial & Foreign Corporation underwrote the share issue of Birmingham Small Arms Company and its associates (The Daimler Co; Burton, Griffiths & Co; Wm Jessop & Sons)
    Western Daily Press - Thursday 11 November 1920 William Beardmore & Co
    Western Daily Press - Monday 29 May 1922 Compagnie Generale Transatlantique (for Societe Generale)
    Western Daily Press - Thursday 30 November 1922 Star Tea Co (Ridgeways)

    Western Daily Press - Wednesday 19 March 1924 ( 9 West country bacon curers in amaglamation)
    Western Daily Press - Monday 15 January 1923 Cassel & Co publishers

    Western Daily Press - Wednesday 19 March 1924 Hoffmann Manufacturing (Ball Bearings)

    Western Times 8 March 1920 indicates that Imperial & Foriegn Corporation is the means for a massive 1.5M reconstruction of the steel industry, via investment in the new United Steel Company Ltd. to form the United Strip & Bar Mills Ltd. The I&F Corporation were then at 1 Broad Street Place and the Corporation's solicitors Guedalla, Jacobson & Spyer at Winchester House, Old Broad Street.

    Flight March 18 1020:
    QUITE the most important item of aviation news of the week is the big Government deal with the " H.P." interests over the remaining aircraft and their impedimenta in the hands of the Ministry of Munitions. Properly handled, ' from a commercial standpoint, as without a doubt the surplus
    stock will be, having regard to the very astute men who are behind the acquiring corporations, judicious distribution of all this mass of aeroplanes and engines throughout the world cannot but help give a strong impetus to the industry aviatic. At the: same time, it relieves the country and the Government of an incubus in the form of overhead charges which was daily growing more irksome, and which would ultimately - have resulted in drastic writing-off without the semblance
    of a prospect of getting back a bit for the credit of-the taxpayers' account. Congratulations, therefore, upon the consummation of the deal.
    IN the hands of the Imperial and Foreign Corporation, the preliminary negotiations were safe, this important body having on its board of directors such sound men as Lord Balfour of Burleigh, K.T. (chairman), Sir I. H. Amory, Bart., Sir J. S. Harmood Banner, M.P., Mr. G. Benenson, Hon. A. H. S. Cripps, Mr. H. Guedalla (managing director), and the Earl of Harrowby.
    HAVING completed their task of completing the negotiations, the commercial handlers of the entire stock, the Aircraft Disposal Co., Ltd., take up the reins, and associated on the directorate of this company are Mr. Handley Page, Mr. Theodore Page and Mr. Godfrey Isaacs, a fine combination. Although Mr. Handley Page for the moment is on the other side of the water, no time will be lost in putting into operation the previously matured plans for dealing with this vast property. Kingsway is the location of the A.D.C., Ltd., where a good many " opportunities " for the right men should present themselves.

    A 1.5M stock offer by Imperial $ Foreign was made in the Ebbw Vale Steel Iron & Coal Co Ltd. in Western Daily Press Tuesday 16 November 1920.

    A Joint Survey by the Technical Staff of the First American Trade Union Delegation

    ... In view of the open hostility to the Soviet government in many directions and to the number of concessions which have already terminated, the absence of criticism and the practical unanimity of favorable opinion in respect to the treatment accorded foreign concessionaires is significant. The Chairman at the annual meeting of the largest single concession in Russia, that of Lena Goldfields, Ltd., Mr. Herbert Guedalla, summarized the general attitude of his company, in London, August, 1927, as follows:

    "In our enterprise we have gone back into Russia purely as business people, and have been treated as such by the Soviet Government, and it is not for me to criticize the recent action which has disturbed the relations between the two Governments. I presume that we may be permitted to claim some little experience of working conditions in Russia, and that, in fact, we are better acquainted with them than the various people who write so much in our Press on this subject. We employ many thousands of workmen, and through the various trade unions we work under
    collective agreements, which are strictly adhered to* As in every other part of the world, the trade unions are continually pressing for better terms, and, where possible, we are only too pleased to meet them in this respect. At the head office every point is logically debated with the heads of the union, but, as happens elsewhere, one will always find some local official pressing views which cannot be accepted.
    With regard to wages, which are paid on trade union scales, I can assure you that our workers are not underpaid, and also, comparing their efficiency with our previous experience in working in Russia before the war, there is no greater difference than has occurred in some other European countries. We are endeavoring to maintain friendly relations with the various trade unions, and 1 believe that they recognize our efforts in this direction. With regard to our relations with the Soviet Government and I would like to emphasize that negotiations between the Soviet Govern-
    ment and trade unions are quite distinct and separate matters I am glad to be able to repeat what we say in the report, that harmonious relations have not been disturbed. In fact, we received an official intimation from the Soviet Government after the breach of relations with the British Government, that our Concession would in all ways be respected. Although welcome, this communication came as no surprise because, so far as I am aware, the Soviet Government has always met its own monetary and commercial obligations."
  • Change Date: 26 SEP 2004 at 11:27:54

    Father: Benjamin SODDY b: 1822/1823 in London,England
    Mother: Hannah GREEN

    Marriage 1 Winifred Moller BEILBY b: 1 MAR 1885 in St Kitts,Slateford. Edinburgh,Scotland
    • Married: 1908 in Glasgow
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