Frederick Soddy Quotes

It is probable that all heavy matter possesses—latent and bound up with the structure of the atom—a similar quantity of energy to that possessed by radium. If it could be tapped and controlled, what an agent it would be in shaping the world’s destiny. The man who put his hand on the lever by which a parsimonious nature regulates so jealously the output of this store of energy, would possess a weapon by which he could destroy the earth if he chose.

The lecture was on radium and the radioactivity that scientists had recently discovered. This appears to be the first time a scientist suggested the possibility of using atomic energy to produce a powerful weapon. At the same time, note that he also mentioned the possible destruction of the earth. “Heavy matter” referred to the elements—many of which had not yet been discovered—that had larger atomic numbers than radium like uranium.
Frederick Soddy
Frederick Soddy
  • Born: September 2, 1877
  • Died: September 22, 1956
  • Nationality: British
  • Profession: Scientist

Frederick Soddy FRS was an English radiochemist who explained, with Ernest Rutherford, that radioactivity is due to the transmutation of elements, now known to involve nuclear reactions. He also proved the existence of isotopes of certain radioactive elements.