Glenn Theodore Seaborg
Born: 19 April 1912, Ishpeming, MI, USA
Died: 25 February 1999, Lafayette, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements"
Field: nuclear chemistry
Prize share: 1/2
The heaviest element existing in nature is uranium, which has an atomic number of 92. All of the heavier elements are radioactive and quickly decay. It has become apparent, however, that they can be created by bombarding atoms with particles and atomic nuclei. After initial contributions by Edwin McMillan, Glenn Seaborg succeeded in 1940 in creating an element with an atomic number of 94, which was named plutonium. This new substance became significant for both nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. Glenn Seaborg subsequently identified additional heavy elements and their isotopes.