47 Facts About Harold Urey


Harold Clayton Urey was an American physical chemist whose pioneering work on isotopes earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934 for the discovery of deuterium.


Harold Urey played a significant role in the development of the atom bomb, as well as contributing to theories on the development of organic life from non-living matter.


Harold Urey was a research associate at Johns Hopkins University before becoming an associate professor of chemistry at Columbia University.


Harold Urey headed the group located at Columbia University that developed isotope separation using gaseous diffusion.


Harold Urey speculated that the early terrestrial atmosphere was composed of ammonia, methane, and hydrogen.


Harold Urey was one of the founding members of UCSD's school of chemistry, which was created in 1960.


Harold Urey became increasingly interested in space science, and when Apollo 11 returned Moon rock samples from the Moon, Urey examined them at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.


Harold Clayton Urey was born on April 29,1893, in Walkerton, Indiana, the son of Samuel Clayton Urey, a school teacher and a minister in the Church of the Brethren, and his wife, Cora Rebecca nee Reinoehl.


Harold Urey had a younger brother, Clarence, and a younger sister, Martha.


Harold Urey was educated in an Amish grade school, from which he graduated at the age of 14.


Harold Urey later moved to Montana, where his mother was then living, and continued to teach there.


Harold Urey entered the University of Montana in Missoula in the autumn of 1914.


Harold Urey earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology there in 1917.


Harold Urey had been raised in a religious sect that opposed war.


Harold Urey took a job with the Barrett Chemical Company in Philadelphia, making TNT, rather than joining the army as a soldier.


An academic career required a doctorate, so in 1921 Urey enrolled in a PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied thermodynamics under Gilbert N Lewis.


Harold Urey ran into difficulties, and Meghnad Saha published a better paper on the same subject.


Harold Urey then wrote his thesis on the ionization states of an ideal gas, which was published in the Astrophysical Journal.


On returning to the United States, Harold Urey received an offer of a National Research Council fellowship to Harvard University, and received an offer to be a research associate at Johns Hopkins University.


The couple had four children: Gertrude Bessie, born in 1927; Frieda Rebecca, born in 1929; Mary Alice, born in 1934; and John Clayton Harold Urey, born in 1939.


In 1929, Urey became an associate professor of chemistry at Columbia University, where his colleagues included Rudolph Schoenheimer, David Rittenberg, and T I Taylor.


Harold Urey had access to a 21-foot grating spectrograph, a sensitive device that had been recently installed at Columbia and was capable of resolving the Balmer series.


Harold Urey therefore decided to delay publishing their results until he had more conclusive evidence that it was heavy hydrogen.


Harold Urey was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934 "for his discovery of heavy hydrogen".


Harold Urey declined to attend the ceremony in Stockholm, so that he could be present at the birth of his daughter Mary Alice.


Harold Urey founded the Journal of Chemical Physics in 1932, and was its first editor, serving in that capacity until 1940.


At Columbia, Harold Urey chaired the University Federation for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom.


Harold Urey supported Atlanticist Clarence Streit's proposal for a federal union of the world's major democracies, and the republican cause during the Spanish Civil War.


Harold Urey was an early opponent of German Nazism and assisted refugee scientists, including Enrico Fermi, by helping them find work in the United States, and to adjust to life in a new country.


In 1939 and 1940, Harold Urey published two papers on the separation of heavier isotopes in which he proposed centrifugal separation.


Harold Urey coordinated all isotope separation research efforts, including the effort to produce heavy water, which could be used as a neutron moderator in nuclear reactors.


In May 1941, Harold Urey was appointed to the Committee on Uranium, which oversaw the uranium project as part of the National Defense Research Committee.


Harold Urey became head of the wartime Substitute Alloy Materials Laboratories at Columbia, which was responsible for the heavy water and all the isotope enrichment processes except Ernest Lawrence's electromagnetic process.


Harold Urey suggested that a more efficient but technically more complicated countercurrent system be used instead of the previous flow-through method.


Harold Urey did not continue his pre-war research with isotopes.


Harold Urey actively campaigned against the 1946 May-Johnson bill because he feared that it would lead to military control of nuclear energy, but supported and fought for the McMahon bill that replaced it, and ultimately created the Atomic Energy Commission.


Harold Urey went on lecture tours against war, and became involved in Congressional debates regarding nuclear issues.


Harold Urey argued publicly on behalf of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee.


In later life, Harold Urey helped develop the field of cosmochemistry and is credited with coining the term.


Harold Urey summarized his work in The Planets: Their Origin and Development.


Harold Urey speculated that the early terrestrial atmosphere was composed of ammonia, methane, and hydrogen.


Harold Urey spent a year in the United Kingdom as a visiting professor at Oxford University in 1956 and 1957.


Harold Urey was made a professor emeritus there from 1970 to 1981.


Harold Urey was one of the founding members of UCSD's school of chemistry, which was created in 1960, along with Stanley Miller, Hans Suess, and Jim Arnold.


Harold Urey enjoyed gardening and raising cattleya, cymbidium and other orchids.


Harold Urey died at La Jolla, California, and is buried in the Fairfield Cemetery in DeKalb County, Indiana.


Harold Urey became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1947.