Discovery of plutonium, 1941

Discovery of plutonium, 1941

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Credit: US NATIONAL ARCHIVES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Discovery of plutonium, 1941. Two pages from the logbook kept by US chemist Glenn Theodore Seaborg (1912-1999) documenting the steps in preparation and the calculations made during the discovery of the radioactive element plutonium. The log runs from 4 March 1941 to 26 March 26 1941. The plutonium is referred to here as Sample A. This work was carried out at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. This discovery, preparation from uranium, and isolation of plutonium was critical to the production of atomic bombs in the Manhattan Project during World War II. For this and other discoveries of tranuranic elements, Seaborg was awarded a share of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

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