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Hans Suess

Hans Eduard Suess (December 16, 1909 in Vienna - September 20, 1993 [1]) was an Austrian physical chemist and nuclear physicist.

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Suess earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Vienna in 1935. During World War II, he was part of a team of German scientists studying atomic energy and was advisor to the production of heavy water in a Norwegian plant (see Operation Gunnerside).

After the war, he collaborated on the shell model of the atomic nucleus with future Nobel Prize in Physics (1963) Hans Jensen.

In 1950 Suess emigrated to the United States. He did research in the field of cosmochemistry, investigating the abundance of certain elements in meteorites with Harold Urey (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1934) at the University of Chicago.

Suess' most recent research was focused on the distribution of carbon-14 and tritium in the oceans and atmosphere. On basis of radiocarbon analyses of annual growth-rings of trees he contributed to

  • the calibration of the radiocarbon dating scale, and
  • the study of the magnitude of the dilution of atmospheric radiocarbon by carbon dioxide from fossil fuels burned since the industrial revolution. This dilution is known as the Suess effect (see articles about the anthropogenic greenhouse effect).


  • Suess, Hans E.; Urey, Harold C., Abundances of the Elements, Reviews of Modern Physics, vol. 28, Issue 1, pp. 53-74 (1956)
  • A Biographical Memoir, from the National Academy Press
  • Biography from the University of California at San Diego Library's special collections
  • Genesis Mission page
  • Suess-effect


  • Robert Jungk in Brighter Than a Thousand Suns (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1958), quotes Suess about the production of heavy water by the Vemork plant. From page 110: "... Jomar Brun, a former technical manager of the [...] heavy water works at Rjukan in Norway [...] stated that he had been told by Hans Suess, the German atomic expert employed there, that production [...] could not attain the dimensions important for war production in much less than five years." Jomar Brun fled to Sweden after the occupation by German troops in 1940. Brun's letters (1950 - 1987), archived in Hans Suess Papers:Series 2, Correspondence:b4/f29, contain a discussion of secret war operations and Brun's role in the production of heavy water.
  • Hitler's Sunken Secret, a NOVA production airing in November 2005 undertakes a forensics approach to evaluate the heavy water threat.
  • Brun, Jomar. Brennpunkt Vemork 1940-1945. ISBN 82-00-06864-1, 119 pages (1985), Universitetsforlaget.


  • He was disappointed by being confused, by the US Postal Service among others, with Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) his contemporary living in the same locality, La Jolla. Ironically, both names have been posthumously linked together: Hans Suess personal papers are housed in the Geisel Library at UCSD [2].
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hans_Suess". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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