Nobel e-Museum
National Academy of Sciences


Harold C. Urey: 1893 - 1981

American scientist awarded the The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1934 for his discovery of the heavy form of hydrogen known as deuterium. Found in natural hydrogen compounds of 0.014 percent, deutrium has an atomic weight of 2 with one proton and one neutron.

During World War II he directed a Columbia University program providing the fundamental information for the separation of the fissionable isotope uranium-235 through the use of gaseous diffusion, and they also investigated methods for concentrating heavy hydrogen and separating boron isotopes.

"It is war that drove men to produce their weapon against their wishes and better judgment, for there were few men working on this weapon who did not realize that it was wholly evil, that it would lead to the death of many men, and that it would be constant threat over all men for all future time."

After his work on the Manhattan Project, he joined Albert Einstein and other scientists in opposing the atomic bomb.