1912-1999

Glenn Theodore Seaborg

Location: First Floor, East Wing, North Wall, Sequence 2

Source: Chemical Heritage Foundation

Sponsor: David J. Morrissey


Seaborg was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan but lived most of his life in California, where he became Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. He is known for his work on the transuranium elements. Following McMillan and Abelson's discovery of the first of these elements (93, neptunium) Seaborg, Kennedy and Wahl isolated plutonium (element 94) and during WWII Seaborg headed a group that produced usable amounts of 239Pu for the atomic bomb (Nagasaki). Afterwards Seaborg recognized the existence of the actinide elements (analogous to the lanthanides) in which the 5f orbitals become filled, and played an important role in identifying nine of them (elements 94-102). He shared the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Edwin McMillan. He served as chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission for ten years, under three presidents. The element 106 is named seaborgium.