Yale University Press
378 pages. Hard Cover.
11 black/white photos, some figures embedded in the text.
Out of Print
My Comments on This Book
Lawrence Badash is the top historian of the early days of radioactivity. In his early days
he obtained various research fellowships to study the Rutherford to Boltwood letters (Yale
University Library) and the Boltwood to Rutherford letters (Cambridge University Library).
Bertrum Boltwood is one of the near forgotten heroes of the pioneering days of
radioactivity. Boltwood was an analytical and physical chemist, at Yale and in private
practice, who specialised in analysis of ores containing rare earths, and with uranium and
thorium which are commonly associated with rare earth minerals.
The book covers from 1904 until 1927, when Boltwood regretably committed suicide. This
collaboration was that of equals, two men with great respect for each other's work and who
enjoyed each others company whenever they could. Boltwood, a year older than
Rutherford, did meticulous work in separating the radioactive elements from ores and each
other. He made an impressive contribution to the chemical processes needed, in identifying
"missing" elements in decay series, in supplying Rutherford with various
separated and purified radioactive samples and in dating the age of minerals. Being good
friends, they exchanged gossip and frank discussions about other workers in the field.
After Rutherford returned to England, Boltwood often spent the summers in Rutherford's lab
so they had a great pool of mutual friends to keep each other in touch with.
The book transcribes all of the correspondence thus making it widely available. It is a
most valuable resource, for which historians of science should be immensely grateful to
Just two transcription typos on p74, where Rutherford's address in New Zealand should be
|Notes on Style
Contractions and Abbreviations
Radioactive Decay Series
Not known at this