Lawrence E. Glendenin
|Lawrence E. Glendenin|
November 8, 1918|
Bay City, Michigan, USA
|Died||November 22, 2008
|Residence||Downers Grove, Illinois, USA|
|Institutions||Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory|
|Alma mater||University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|Notable awards||Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry (1974)|
He worked as a chemist at the Clinton Laboratories (now Oak Ridge National Laboratory) during the World War II Manhattan Project, engaged in separating, identifying and characterizing the radioactive elements produced by nuclear fission. In 1945, he, together with Jacob A. Marinsky and Charles D. Coryell, isolated the previously undocumented rare earth element 61. Marinsky and Glendenin produced promethium both by extraction from fission products and by bombarding neodymium with neutrons. They isolated it using ion-exchange chromatography. Publication of the finding was delayed until later due to the war. In September 1947, Marinsky and Glendenin announced the discovery at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Upon the suggestion of Coryell's wife, the team named the new element for the titan Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and was punished for the act by Zeus. They had also considered naming it "clintonium" for the facility where it was isolated.
In 1945, Glendenin and 154 other Manhattan Project scientists signed the Szilárd petition. The petition urged President Harry S. Truman not to use the first atomic bomb "without restriction," urging him instead to "describe and demonstrate" its power and give Japan "the opportunity to consider the consequences of further refusal to surrender."
He published extensively on the properties of fission products. He served as Scientific Secretary on the U.S. delegation to the Atoms for Peace Conference and received the American Chemical Society's Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry in 1974.
Family and Death
Glendenin was married for 63 years to Ethel Glendenin (née Long), who survived him at his death in November 2008. The couple were the parents of two daughters and one son.
- Dr. Lawrence Elgin Glendenin (obituary), Chicago Tribune, December 2, 2008
- Reactor Chemistry - Discovery of Promethium, ORNL Review, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2003
- Nervous Elements, Time magazine, September 29, 1947
- Jacob A. Marinsky, Lawrence E. Glendenin, Charles D. Coryell: "The Chemical Identification of Radioisotopes of Neodymium and of Element 61", J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1947, 69 (11), pp. 2781–2785; doi:10.1021/ja01203a059.
- Promethium Unbound: A New Element, ORNL Review Vol. 35, Nos. 3 and 4, 2002
- Oak Ridge petition, mid-July 1945, The Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association
- Howard Gest, The July 1945 Szilard Petition on the Atomic Bomb; Memoir by a signer in Oak Ridge, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, accessed December 5, 2008
- Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry, American Chemical Society website, accessed December 2, 2008