Do you know where the term “isotope” comes from? The term was coined about 100 years ago.
Frederick Soddy worked alongside his colleague, Ernest Rutherford, to study radiation. He used chemistry to determine the sequence of steps involved and the products of radioactive decay. He and Rutherford were the first to calculate the amount of energy that can be released during this process. Of course, elements with the same atomic numbers, but different mass numbers, were integral to their work. In a 1913 letter to the editor of Nature magazine, Soddy proposed the term “isotope” to be used in reference to those atoms. Read more about Soddy and his impressive contributions to the field of chemistry in the December 2 issue of C&EN. I shared George Kauffman’s article with my chemistry classes today.