Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Howard C. Urey

I thought it might have a practical use in something like neon signs.” said Urey, the 1934 Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry, after he discovered deuterium or heavy hydrogen. His discovery of the deuterium isotope aided the development of the atomic bomb and although he was at one time head of atomic bomb research at Columbia University, he later actively opposed nuclear weapons. He warned that "atomic bombs are evil ... and cannot be used to maintain peace."

Shortly after one of the early atomic explosions on the desert flats of New Mexico, he wrote: I am trying to frighten you. I am myself a frightened man. All the experts I know are also frightened. In a January 1946 Colliers magazine article titled "I'm A Frightened Man," he said: "Most scientists think wars and national boundaries are a menace to the true creative spirit by which science must live, they hate war and they are terrified of atomic war –- because they know its possibilities"

Howard Urey was born in Walkerton, Indiana. His father was a school teacher and Brethren minister and served for a time in the Cedar Lake congregation, before his death when Howard was only six. Howard was later clerk of the Cedar Lake congregation as a young man. His early education in rural schools led to his graduation from high school in 1911 after which he taught for three years in country schools.

Sources: Preaching in a Tavern, Morse biography biography