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Theodore W. Richards

Theodore W. RichardsAKA Theodore William Richards

Born: 31-Jan-1868
Birthplace: Germantown, PA
Died: 2-Apr-1928
Location of death: Cambridge, MA
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Quaker
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist, Inventor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Atomic weights

Theodore W. Richards was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, receiving the honor in 1914 for his work determining the atomic weights of cesium, cobalt, iron, nickel, uranium, and some twenty more elements. Toward this purpose he designed a nephelometer (cloud measurer) to detect traces of moisture by measuring the turbidity of the filtrate, and a bottling apparatus to further ensure that the materials handled in his laboratory were absolutely dry. He also invented an adiabatic calorimeter to prevent absorption or dissipation of heat from or to materials, and in 1913 he conducted experiments that provided strong support for Frederick Soddy's concept of isotopes.

He was home-educated until entering Haverford College at the age of 15, and after earning a degree there he pursued further education at Harvard, where he spent his career. His father, William Trost Richards (1833-1905), was an artist known for landscape paintings and seascapes. His mother, Anna Matlack Richards (1835-1900), was an author and poet of some renown in her time. His sister, Anna Richards Brewster (1870-1952), was a successful impressionist painter. His daughter, Patty Thayer Reynolds, married author and educator James B. Conant.

Father: William Trost Richards (artist, b. 14-Nov-1833, d. 8-Nov-1905)
Mother: Anna Matlack Richards (poet/author, b. 15-Mar-1835, m. 30-Jun-1856, d. 30-Nov-1900)
Brother: Archer Richards (b. 30-Apr-1857)
Brother: Charles Matlack Richards (b. 7-Jun-1859, d. 6-Apr-1865)
Sister: Eleanor French Richards Price (b. 10-May-1862)
Sister: Josephine Anna Richards (b. 20-Sep-1864, d. 30-Aug-1865)
Sister: Anna Mary Richards Brewster (artist, b. 3-Apr-1870, d. 1952)
Brother: Herbert Maule Richards (b. 6-Oct-1871)
Sister: Mildred Richards (b. 30-Jan-1879, d. 20-Mar-1880)
Wife: Miriam Stuart Thayer Richards (m. 28-May-1896, one daughter, two sons)
Daughter: Grace Thayer Richards Reynolds (b. 1-Feb-1898, married James B. Conant)
Son: William Theodore Richards (chemist, b. 24-Mar-1900, d. 30-Jan-1940 suicide)
Son: Greenough Thayer Richards (architect, b. 17-Oct-1905, d. 24-Nov-1953)

    University: BS, Haverford College (1885)
    University: BA, Harvard University (1886)
    University: MA, Harvard University (1888)
    University: PhD Chemistry, Harvard University (1888)
    Teacher: Harvard University (1891-1901)
    Professor: Chemistry, Harvard University (1901-12)
    Professor: Erving Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University (1901-12)

    Davy Medal 1910
    IET Faraday Medal 1911
    William Gibbs Medal 1912
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1914
    Benjamin Franklin Medal 1916 (by the Franklin Institute)
    Lavoisier Medal 1922
    French Legion of Honor Officer (1925)
    American Chemical Society President (1914)
    American Association for the Advancement of Science President (1917)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences President (1919-21)
    Risk Factors: Depression

Author of books:
Determinations of Atomic Weights (1910, non-fiction)
The Scientific Work of Morris Loeb (1913, biography)

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