Soddy, born in 1877, was one of the earlier atomic scientists. He
went to Oxford rather than Cambridge in 1896 to read chemistry, and
established a reputation for excellence at an early age. Before the
First World War he was concerned with the potential effects of the
release of atomic energy, working with Ernest Rutherford at McGill in
1901. They published 8 papers setting out the “Disintegration Theory
of Atomic Transmutation,” for which Rutherford received the Nobel
(1904 to 1914) he studied the displacements in the periodic table
through radioactive changes leading to his theory of chemically
identical elements with different atomic weights, which he called
isotopes. This work earned him the Nobel Prize in 1921.
greatly perplexed by the paradox of atomic chemistry and physics that
could either bring massive destruction or huge wealth. In 1919 he was
appointed to the Dr Lee’s Chair of Chemistry at Oxford where later he
interested in politics and currency reform.
The late Lord
Dainton of Hallam Moors, himself a former Dr Lee’s Professor of
Chemistry, writing the foreword to Dr Linda Merricks’ The World Made
New, explained that when, in his youth, he arrived at Oxford, his
utter respect for Soddy’s work and Soddy as a man were wholly
reinforced when attending Soddy’s lectures.
Frederick Soddy was actively involved in the Le Play Society which was
founded on the ideas of the pioneering French sociologist le Play.
Shortly before his death in 1956, feeling that the Society was in
decline, Professor Soddy instructed
Peter Bunker, a young solicitor, to establish the Frederick Soddy
Trust by his will, giving grants to groups studying the whole life of
a community. Peter Bunker became an eminent Brighton solicitor
and chaired and developed the Trust for many years.
For further details about Professor Frederick Soddy, see
Made New: Frederick Soddy, Science, Politics, and Environment by
Dr Linda Merricks. OUP 1996 ISBN 0 19 855934 8. See also
Two plaques commemorating Professor Soddy were identified and
Iain Rae of Eastbourne and sent to the Web Master in May 2007:
Click on the photo to enlarge
The Science Block at
Frederick Soddy's birthplace:
6 Bolton Road, Eastbourne.
It has been
reported that this plaque has been taken away.
top of page
This photograph of Professor Soddy is held by the Royal Society.
Click on this photograph to enlarge it: →
as a very young man 1897/98*
in about 1900 to 1903*
in Rome. Who are the others, and
what is on the ground?*
in Lindau 1952
near the end of his life.
in Aberdeen in 1915
of Soddy held
in the Trust's files
* Photograph owned by The Frederick Soddy Trust