Article ID: CBB001421507

A Tale of Oblivion: Ida Noddack and the “Universal Abundance” of Matter (2014)


Ida Noddack was a German chemist who in 1925, with her husband Walter Noddack, discovered element 75 (rhenium) and possibly element 43 (technetium). She is also known to have anticipated, by nine years, the possibility of nuclear fission. This article focuses on Ida's hypothesis that all elements are present in any mineral. Ida related the relative abundance of the elements in the Universe to hypothetical properties of the atomic nuclei. This allowed her to speculate about a different Periodic Table in which isotopes might be the cause of unexpected features of periodicity. Ida Noddack faced many professional obstacles because of her scientific nonconformity and gender, the resentment of physicists against intrusion in their field, and the overall difficulty of research under and after the Nazi regime.

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Authors & Contributors
Cioci, Vincenzo
Löffler, Gerd Reinhold
Ceulemans, Arnout
Robinson, Ann E.
Oswald, Nicola M. R.
Walker, Mark
Substantia: An International Journal of the History of Chemistry
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Physics in Perspective
Foundations of Chemistry
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Luigi Pellegrini Editore
Oxford University Press
Springer International Publishing
American Philosophical Society
Chemical elements
Atomic structure
Nuclear fission
Periodic system of the elements; periodic table
Fermi, Enrico
Hahn, Otto
Meyer, Julius Lothar von
Seubert, Karl
Billich, Anton Günther
Bothe, Walther
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
18th century
21st century
20th century, early
Early modern
United States
International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

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