Talk:Harold Urey

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Good article Harold Urey has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
September 24, 2013 Good article nominee Listed
Did You Know

Possible mistake re:line shift for deuterium[edit]

According to the formula at the bottom of the deuterium lines should be blueshifted (=shorter wavelength), but the article says (here: that they should be redshifted. This needs further verification. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:12, 16 October 2015 (UTC)


I removed this text, because it has remained unsourced for 3 months:

A humorous footnote: During this period, Urey once (during a class lecture) lamented - a bit too vehemently - that he was doing nothing for the War Effort. One of his students, Isaac Asimov, inquired innocently about the enriched uranium that was being kept at Columbia. Was not that related to the war effort? Urey reddened and changed the subject. [citation needed] (see below)

Ashmoo 03:46, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

I've reverted. I think there was an attempt to make the Asimov essay be the citation, so I've corrected that. It might not be useful content, I'm not sure, but it DOES appear to be cited. (John User:Jwy talk) 05:27, 16 October 2006 (UTC)


Moved here to Talk.

- "His Columbia University office in Havemayer is now used by Professor Brus of the Chemistry department."

This is presumably some sort of trivia or non-notable item. (Wikipedia:Notability)

- "The corner of the blackboard in the office currently reads: "This office belonged to H.C. Urey, who discovered deuterium"."

As this stands, this is trivia, non-notable, a violation of Wikipedia:Template_messages/Cleanup#Time-sensitive, and/or some problem with Wikipedia:NOT.

These are both also WP:OR and need cites if we want to include them in the article. -- (talk) 17:02, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Asimov Section Missing Quotation Marks?[edit]

In the paragraph discussing Urey and Asimov and uranium, there's curious italicization and NPOV-ness in describing "the most dangerous situation that humanity has ever faced in all history." Someone with the resources want to confirm whether that's because there's a quote of Asimov or someone else in there? Czrisher (talk) 15:13, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Harold Urey/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Quadell (talk · contribs) 15:18, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Nominator: Hawkeye7

I will study this article carefully, and I hope to have the review complete by the weekend. Regarding my reviewing style, issues I identify below will be prepended by the number of the relevant GA criterion. As they are resolved, I will cross out the issue number. Comments that are not actionable requirements are not prepended. – Quadell (talk) 15:18, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

  • The photo and signature are correctly tagged and legitimately free. Are there other photos that would be useful in the article? For instance, would File:S1 Committee 1942.jpg or File:Harold Urey.jpg, or perhaps one of these diagrams, improve the article?
    YesY Added. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
    • 6b The diagram is now in the wrong section, which may confuse the reader into thinking the discovery of deuterium is depicted. I know, that may lead to a crowded Cosmochemistry section... but by reducing the size of the older Urey image and shuffling things about, it should all fit. If not, I'm of the opinion that the "older Urey" image is the least useful, if one has to be removed. – Quadell (talk) 12:36, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 2b The award "Fellow of the Royal Society" is referenced in the infobox because it is not mentioned in the body. It would be better to mention the award in the body and reference the fact there instead. In addition, the Franklin Medal award is not mentioned in the body or referenced anywhere. Other major awards (e.g. the Arthur L. Day Medal) are described in the article but not listed in the infobox.
    YesY Added additional awards to the infobox. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Normally, citations are not needed in the lead. However, the citation you give is indeed useful, since it backs up what could otherwise be a contested statement. So that's very appropriate.
  • 1a The lead says "Work with isotopes of oxygen led to pioneering the new field of paleoclimatic research" in paragraph two. But that work occurred after WWII, and would be more at home in paragraph 4.
    YesY Done. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • That said, it's an excellent lead. It's well-worded, and effectively summarizes all the major parts of the article. Way too many GANs have inadequate leads, so it's nice to see a good one.
  • 1b Some sentences in the article use the serial comma, while others do not. MOS:SERIAL tells us "Editors may use either convention on Wikipedia so long as each article is consistent within itself." I like the serial comma personally, but you're free to either always include or always omit it. Here are some examples:
    • No serial comma: "composed of ammonia, methane and hydrogen"
    • Serial comma: "he met Werner Heisenberg, Hans Kramers, Wolfgang Pauli, Georg von Hevesy, and John Slater"
    • No serial comma: "his colleagues included Rudolph Schoenheimer, David Rittenberg and T. I. Taylor"
    • No serial comma: "compounds of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen"
    • No serial comma: "by Urey, Murphy and Brickwedde"
    • Serial comma: "he also won the J. Lawrence Smith Medal in 1962, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1966, and the Priestley Medal of the American Chemical Society in 1973"
    • Serial comma: "Named after him are lunar impact crater Urey, asteroid 4716 Urey, and the H. C. Urey Prize" (etc.)
      YesY Used the serial comma, in the belief that it is more American. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
      I added an addition serial comma where it was missing. – Quadell (talk) 12:36, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1a "which was created in 1960" can be shortened to "created in 1960" to make the prose more fluid.
    No, that creates an ambiguity. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
    I don't see the ambiguity. Either way, it's clear that the school of chemistry was created in 1960. But since it's a stylistic choice, I'm striking my objection. – Quadell (talk) 12:36, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1a I made various changes to the "Early life" section involving grammar, punctuation, spacing, and clarity. In each case, it seemed easier to make the change myself than to describe what was needed. If you disagree with any of these changes, feel free to revert me and discuss.
    All fine Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1b It would be to link University of California, Berkeley, rather than University of California and Berkeley, California.
    YesY Done. The problem here is that the modern reader is accustomed to several UC campuses, but back then there was only one. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
    Oh, it that so? I'm afraid I was the "modern reader" there, assuming UC-Berkeley was just one of several campuses. If it was the only UC, and was at Berkeley, then I guess I'll leave it up to you to determine which is the more accurate way to refer to it. – Quadell (talk) 12:36, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 3a It would be better to say name of the physicist who beat him to the punch on his first PhD thesis, rather than just calling him "an Indian physicist". Does the source say?
    Probably. I don't have the book available at the moment, so I this will have to wait a while. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
    Well, it's an opportunity for improvement, but not an objection to GA status. – Quadell (talk) 12:36, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1b Linking Angstrom would be useful.
    YesY This one broke the convert template. So I had to use convert/2. I can switch the linking on, but link=in breaks the template again, so the upshot is that meters gets linked too. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1b Since no one does scientific measurement with United States customary units, I don't think it's useful to convert angstroms to feet or millilitres to fluid ounces. (Or even centigrade to Fahrenheit, in the context of scientific measurements.)
    YesY Been through this before. The argument will be about whether it is a scientific or a biographical article. The fact is that the old measurements were not used in laboratories even in the 1930s and 1940s, and have largely fallen into disuse in the US. But that doesn't stop American editors from getting hurt feelings when you tell them to use metric. Removed conversions of Anstroms to feet, and millilitres to fluid ounces. Kept the temperatures, as Kelvin is not known to people who didn't do high school chemistry. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
    Yes, that sounds like the sort of trivia that Wikipedia editors too often elevate to the level of a crusade. Thanks for the change. – Quadell (talk) 12:36, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1a "However, since only one atom in 4,500 was heavy, it was very faint." What was very faint?
    YesY Spectral line. Added. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1a When he said he worked hard because he's not on tenure anymore, was he joking? If so, it would be clearer if said "he joked" rather than "he said".
    YesY Aaarggh. It's not a joke if you have to tell people. Added. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
    Sorry! But those of us outside academia may not understand how tenure works. At least you don't have to spell it out, like "Urey was being facetious, as his lack of a current tenured position was no long an obstacle to the security of his position or reputation" or something horribly clunky like that. – Quadell (talk) 12:36, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 3a The article rarely discusses Urey's personal life, omitting his political views entirely, but the Hewlett & Anderson source devotes a good deal of space to these topics. Urey chaired the University Federation for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom. He actively promoted a world governmental federation throughout his life. He opposed Naziism and assisted refugee scientists (including Fermi). He went on lecture tours against war, and became involved in Congressional debates regarding nuclear issues. He argued publicly on Ethel and Julius Rosenberg's behalf, and was even called before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He founded the Journal of Chemical Physics and was its first editor. And he enjoyed raising orchids in his garden. It seems to me that all of these deserve a mention in a complete GA on the man.
    YesY Added all this. Hawkeye7 (talk) 07:33, 22 September 2013 (UTC)
    Fantastic work! – Quadell (talk) 13:40, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1b Coffey's book in the "Further Reading" section is not formatted like the others.
    • Now moot. – Quadell (talk) 12:36, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 1b Since Miller & Oró is used in "Notes", it isn't needed in "Further Reading". Since that would leave "Further Reading" with a single book (that only mentions Urey in one section), should the "Further Reading" section be omitted?
    YesY Omitted. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 2a There are a couple of minor formatting problems in the notes: #48 has the D misplaced, and #1 should not have bold in part of the title.
    YesY Corrected. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
  • 2a Both Arnold et al. and Hewlett & Anderson are static, written works, with online versions linked for convenience. As our manual of style says, "Do not add a 'Retrieved on' date for convenience links to online editions of paper journals", and I believe the same applies for books.
    I don't think it does. The main purpose is for me to be able to find a link again through the Wayback or similar. Of course, with a book, we can just remove the link if it breaks. I've interpreted "paper journals" to include all journals, whether they are on paper or not, as it is hard to tell these days. Hawkeye7 (talk) 23:09, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
    I'm reasonably certain that a "retrieved on" date is not useful for online copies of books. And I know that FACs are usually admonished to remove them (e.g. the first "spot review" item here). But I can't find a MOS requirement, and it's admittedly a very minor issue, so I'm striking this objection. – Quadell (talk) 12:36, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    A. Prose is clear and concise, without copyvios, or spelling and grammar errors:
    All issues resolved. Excellent prose.
    B. MoS compliance for lead, layout, words to watch, fiction, and lists:
    No problems remain.
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    A. Has an appropriate reference section:
    All issues resolved.
    B. Citation to reliable sources where necessary:
    All issues resolved.
    C. No original research:
    No problems.
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. Major aspects:
    All issues skillfully resolved.
    B. Focused:
    No problems.
  4. Is it neutral?
    Fair representation without bias:
    No problems.
  5. Is it stable?
    No edit wars, etc:
    No problems.
  6. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    A. Images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content:
    No problems.
    B. Images are provided if possible and are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions:
    No issues remain.
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:
    I'm delighted to elevate this article to GA status. Well done! – Quadell (talk) 13:40, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

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