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Ida Noddack

Ida Noddack Tacke (25 February 1896 in Wesel - 1978) was a German chemist and physicist. With her husband Walter Noddack she discovered element 75 Rhenium. She correctly criticized Enrico Fermi's chemical proofs in his 1934 neutron bombardment experiments, from which he postulated that transuranic elements might have been produced, and which was widely accepted for a few years. Her paper, "On Element 93" suggested a number of possibilities, centering around Fermi's failure to chemically eliminate all lighter than uranium elements in his proofs, rather than only down to lead. The paper is considered historically significant today not simply because she correctly pointed out the flaw in Fermi's chemical proof but because she suggested the possibility that "it is conceivable that the nucleus breaks up into several large fragments, which would of course be isotopes of known elements but would not be neighbors of the irradiated element." In so doing she presaged what would become known a few years later as nuclear fission. However Noddack offered no theoretical basis for this possibility, which defied the understanding at the time, and her suggestion that the nucleus breaks into several large fragments is not what occurs in nuclear fission. The paper was generally ignored. Later experiments along a similar line to Fermi's, by Irene Joliot-Curie, and Pavel Savitch in 1938 raised what they called "interpretational difficulties" when the supposed transuranics exhibited the properties of rare earths rather than those of adjacent elements. Ultimately in 1939 Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann, working in consultation with long term colleague Lise Meitner (who had been forced to flee Germany) provided chemical proof that the previously presumed transuranic elements were isotopes of Barium. It remained for Meitner and her nephew Otto Frisch utilizing Fritz Kalckar and Neils Bohr's liquid drop hypothesis (first proposed by George Gamow in 1935) to provide a theoretical model and mathematical proof of what they dubbed nuclear fission ( Frisch also experimentally verified the fission reaction by means of a cloud chamber, confirming the massive energy release). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]




Ida Noddack Tacke was one of the first women in Germany to study chemistry. She attained a doctorate in 1919 at the technical university of Berlin "On higher aliphatic fatty acid anhydrides" and worked afterwards in the field being the first woman in the industry in Germany. She and her husband looked for the then still unknown elements 43 and 75 at the Physical Institute for Realm. In 1925, they published a paper (Zwei neue Elemente der Mangangruppe, Chemischer Teil) claiming to have done so, and called the new elements Rhenium and Masurium. Only the discovery of the rhenium was confirmed. They were unable to isolate any element 43 and their results were not reproducible. Their choice of the term Masurium was also considered unacceptably nationalistic and may have contributed to a poor reputation amongst scientists of the day.

Dvi-Manganese Eka-Manganese Element 75 Element 43 Rhenium/Nipponium/Masurium/Technetium Priority

Artificially produced Element 43 was definitively isolated in 1937 by Emilio Segre and Carlo Perrier from a discarded piece of molybdenum foil from a cyclotron which had undergone beta decay. It is called Technetium. No isotope of technetium has a half-life longer than 4.2 million years and was presumed to have disappeared on earth in as a naturally occurring element. In 1961 of minute amounts of technetium in pitchblende produced from spontaneous 238U fission was discovered by B. T Kenna and P.K. Kuroda. [11] Based on this discovery, Belgian physicist Pieter van Assche constructed an analysis of their data to show that the detection limit of Noddacks' analytical method could have been 1000 times lower than the 10-9 value reported in their paper, in order to show that the Noddacks could have been the first to find measurable amounts of element 43, as the ores they had analyzed contained uranium. [12] Using Van Assche's estimates of the Noddacks' residue compositions NIST scientist, John T. Armstrong, to simulated the original X-ray spectrum with a computer, and claimed that the results were "surprisingly close to their published spectrum!" [13] Gunter Herrmann from the University of Mainz examined van Assche's arguments, and concluded that they were developed ad hoc, and forced to a predetermined result. [14] According to Kenna and Kuroda 99technetium content expected in a typical pitchblende (50% uranium) is about 10 -10 g/kg of ore. F. Habashi pointed out that uranium was never more than about 5% in Noddacks' columbite samples, and the amount of element 43 could not exceed 3 × 10 -11 µg/kg of ore. Such a low quantity could not be weighed, nor give X-ray lines of element 43 that could be clearly distinguished from the background noise. The only way to detect its presence is to carry out radioactive measurements, a technique that the Noddacks did not use, but Segrè and Perrier did. [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

Following on the Van Assche and Armstrong claims, an investigation was made into the works of Masataka Ogawa who had made a prior claim to the Noddacks. In 1908 he claimed to have isolated element 43 calling it Nipponium. Using an actual original plate (not a simulation) Kenji Yoshihara determined that Ogawa had not found the Period 5 Group 7 element 43 ( eka-manganese), but had successfully separated Period 6 Group 7 element 73 ( dvi-manganese) (Rhenium), preceding the Noddacks by 17 years. [20] [21] [22]

Nobel nominations

Ida Noddack Tacke was nominated three times for Nobel Prize in Chemistry, once by Walter Nernst and K. L. Wagner for 1933; both Noddacks were nominated by W. J. Müller for 1935 and then by A. Skrabal for 1937.[23] [24]


  • Tacke, Ida, and D. Holde. 1921. Ueber Anhydride höherer aliphatischer Fettesäuren. Berlin, TeH., Diss., 1921. (On higher aliphatic fatty acid anhydrides )
  • Noddack, Walter, Otto Berg, and Ida Tacke. 1925. Zwei neue Elemente der Mangangruppe, Chemischer Teil. [Berlin: In Kommission bei W. de Gruyter]. (Two new elements of the manganese chemical group)
  • Noddack, Ida, and Walter Noddack. 1927. Das Rhenium. Ergebnisse Der Exakten Naturwissenschaften. 6. Bd. (1927) (Rhenium)
  • Noddack, Ida, and Walter Noddack. 1933. Das Rhenium. Leipzig: Leopold Foss. (Rhenium)
  • Noddack, Walter, and Ida Noddack. 1937. Aufgaben und Ziele der Geochemie. Freiburger wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft, Hft. 26. Freiburg im Breisgau: H. Speyer, H.F. Schulz. (Tasks and goals of Geochemistry)
  • Noddack, Ida, and Walter Noddack. 1939. Die Häufigkeiten der Schwermetalle in Meerestieren. Arkiv för zoologi, Bd. 32, A, Nr. 4. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell. (The frequency of heavy metals in marine animals)
  • Noddack, Ida. 1942. Entwicklung und Aufbau der chemischen Wissenschaft. Freiburg i.Br: Schulz. (The development and structure of chemical science)


  1. ^ FERMI, E. (1934). "Possible Production of Elements of Atomic Number Higher than 92". Nature 133: p. 898-899.
  2. ^ NODDACK, IDA (September, 1934). "On Element 93". Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Chemie 47: p. 653. English Translation.
  3. ^ Irene Joliot-Curie, and Pavel Savitch (1938). "On the Nature of a Radioactive Element with 3.5-Hour Half-Life Produced in the Neutron Irradiation of Uranium". Comptes Rendus 208 (906): 1643.
  4. ^ Translation in American Journal of Physics, January 1964, p. 9-15O. HAHN AND F. STRASSMANN (January 1939). "Concerning the Existence of Alkaline Earth Metals Resulting from Neutron Irradiation of Uranium" (English Translation). Die Naturwissenschaften 27: p. 11-15.
  5. ^ Bohr, N (1936). "Neutron capture and nuclear constitution". NATURE (137): 344.
  6. ^ Bohr N. and Kalckar F. (1937). "On the Transmutation of Atomic Nuclei by Impact of Material Particles. I. General theoretical remarks.". MATEMATISK-FYSISKE MEDDELELSER KONGELIGE DANSKE VIDENSKABERNES SELSKAB 14 (Nr. 10): 1.
  7. ^ (March 12, 1937) "REPORT OF THE THIRD WASHINGTON CONFERENCE ON THEORETICAL PHYSICS". President's Papers/RG0002; Office of Public Relations. Retrieved on 2007-04-01.
  8. ^ Lise Meitner, Otto Robert Frisch (Feb. 11, 1939). "Disintegration of Uranium by Neutrons: a New Type of Nuclear Reaction". Nature 143: 239-240. doi:10.1038/224466a0.
  9. ^ Otto Robert Frisch (Feb. 11, 1939). "Physical Evidence for the Division of Heavy Nuclei under Neutron Bombardment". Nature (London) 143: p. 276.
  10. ^ Niels Bohr (Feb. 25, 1939). "Disintegration of Heavy Nuclei". Nature (London) 143: p. 330.
  11. ^ Kenna, B. T.; Kuroda, P. K. (December 1961). "Isolation of naturally occurring technetium". Journal of Inorganic and Nuclear Chemistry Vol. 23 (No. 1-2): Pages 142-144. doi:10.1016/0022-1902(61)80098-5.
  12. ^ By reanalysing the original experimental conditions, we conclude that the detection limit for their observing the X-rays of Z = 43 can be 1000 times lower than the 10−9 detection limit for the element Z = 75. Pieter H. M. Van Assche (4 April 1988). "The ignored discovery of the element-Z=43". Nuclear Physics A Volume 480 (Issue 2): 205-214. doi:10.1016/0375-9474(88)90393-4.
  13. ^ "I simulated the X-ray spectra that would be expected for Van Assche's initial estimates of the Noddacks' residue compositions. ...Over the next couple of years, we refined our reconstruction of their analytical methods and performed more sophisticated simulations. The agreement between simulated and reported spectra improved further. " Armstrong, John T. (February 2003). "Technetium". Chemical & Engineering News Vol. 81 (No. 36): 110.
  14. ^ Günter Herrmann (11 December 1989). "Technetium or masurium — a comment on the history of element 43". Nuclear Physics A 505 (2): 352-360. doi:10.1016/0375-9474(89)90379-5.
  15. ^ Habashi, F. (2005). Ida Noddack (1896-1978):Personal Recollections on the Occasion of 80th Anniversary of the Discovery of Rhenium. Québec City, Canada: Métallurgie Extractive Québec, p 59. ISBN 2-922-686-08-6. 
  16. ^ Abstract: A careful study of the history of the element 43 covering a period of 63 years since 1925 reveals that there is no reason for believing that the Noddacks and Berg have discovered element 43.P. K. Kuroda (16 October 1989). "A Note on the Discovery of Technetium". Nuclear Physics A 503 (1): Pages 178-182. doi:10.1016/0375-9474(89)90260-1.
  17. ^ P. K. Kuroda. The Origin of Chemical Elements and the Oklo Phenomenon. Berlin;New York:Springer-Verlag date=1982. ISBN 9780387116792. 
  18. ^ Noddack, W.; Tacke, I.; Berg, O (1925). "Die Ekamangane". Naturwissenschaften 13: 567–574.
  19. ^ ... P. H. Van Assche and J. T. Armstrong, cannot stand up to the well-documented assertion of the well-established physicist Paul K. Kuroda (1917­ 2001) in his paper, "A Note on the Discovery of Technetium" that the Noddacks did not discover technetium, then known as masurium. More about this matter can be found in Kuroda's book, The Origin of Chemical Elements and the Oklo Phenomenon , and the book Ida Noddack (1896­ 1978). Personal Recollections on the Occasion of 80th Anniversary of the Discovery of Rhenium recently published by the writer...Fathi Habashi
    • Since the publication in this Journal of my paper on the discovery of element 43 (1), I have received a few letters questioning the correctness of the next to last paragraph, in the section entitled Nemesis....
    I am deeply indebted to George B. Kauffman, Fathi Habashi, Gunter Herrmann, and Jean Pierre Adloff, who provided me with additional information and convinced me to better consider the published material on the so-called Noddacks' rehabilitation and to correct with this letter my gross mistake, for which I apologize. Roberto Zingales
    1. Zingales, R. J. Chem. Educ. 2005, 82, 221­227
    (February 2006) "Letters The History of Element 43--Technetium" (pdf). Journal of Chemical Education Vol. 83 (No.2).
  20. ^ Masataka Ogawa's discovery of nipponium was accepted once in the periodic table of chemical elements as the element 43, but disappeared later. However, nipponium clearly shows characteristics of rhenium (Z=75) by inspection of his papers from the modern chemical viewpoints...a record of X-ray spectrum of Ogawa's nipponium sample from thorianite was contained in a photographic plate reserved by his family. The spectrum was read and indicated the absence of the element 43 and the presence of the element 75H. K. Yoshihara (31 August 2004). "Discovery of a new element ‘nipponium’: re-evaluation of pioneering works of Masataka Ogawa and his son Eijiro Ogawa". Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy Volume 59, Issue 8 , 31 August 2004, Pages 1305-1310 59 (8): Pages 1305-1310. doi:10.1016/j.sab.2003.12.027.
  21. ^ In a recent evaluation of the discovery of “nipponium,” supposed to be element 43 by Masataka Ogawa in 1908, and confirmed but not published by his son Eijiro in the 1940s, Kenji Yoshihara remeasured a photographic plate of an X-ray spectrum taken by Ogawa and found that the spectral lines were those of rhenium. Thus actually, rhenium was discovered many years before Noddack, Tacke, and Berg’s workH. Kenji YOSHIHARA; Teiji KOBAYASHI; Masanori KAJI (November 2005). "Ogawa Family and Their‘Nipponium’ Research: Successful Separation of the Element 75 before Its Discovery by Noddacks". Historia Scientiarum Vol.15 (No.2).
  22. ^ Element 75 was isolated in 1908 by the Japanese chemist Masataka Ogawa and named Nipponium. He inadequately assigned it as element 43 (Technetium). From the modern chemical viewpoint it has to be considered to be element 75Peter van der Krogt. 75 Rhenium. Elementymology & Elements Multidict. Retrieved on 2007-04-03.
  23. ^ Crawford, E. (May 20, 2002). The Nobel Population 1901-1950: A Census of the Nominations and Nominees for the Prizes in Physics and Chemistry, pp 278, 279, 283, 284, 292, 293, 300, 301. 
  24. ^ "".
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