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Nuclear Physics

Picture of Ida Noddack

Ida Tacke Noddack


Additional Information

Some Important Contributions

"Die Ekamangane" Naturwissenshaften 13: 567 (1925) with O. Berg and W. Noddack.
  • Discovered element 75, named rhenium, with W. Noddack and O. Berg.

    In this paper Berg, Noddack and Tacke also reported evidence for an element 43 which they named masurium. This element was later (1937) found by C. Perrier and E. Segre in a molybdenum foil irradiated in the Berkeley cyclotron, and named technetium. The discovery of element 43 by Berg, Noddack and Tacke in naturally occuring rock was and is disputed because all known isotopes of this element are unstable with half-lives much less than the age of the earth; for discussions see e.g., P. H. M. Van Assche, Nuc. Phys A480:205(1988) and G. Herrmann, Nuc. Phys. A505: 352 (1989).

"Uber das Element 93" Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Chemie 47: 653 (1934).
  • Suggested that radioactivity resulting from bombardment of uranium by neutrons, which Fermi proposed might be evidence for the production of element Z=93 [c.f., E. Fermi, "Possible Production of Elements of Atomic Number Higher than 92", Nature, 133: 898 (1934)], might be evidence that neutrons caused the uranium nucleus to disintegrate into several heavy fragments, isotopes of known elements - a process now known as fission. Being a chemist, she naturally suggested this could be determined by chemical analysis. Indeed the radiochemist Otto Hahn with F. Strassmann and Lise Meitner, by chemical studies, confirmed her suggestion in 1939.


In addition to the above two publications, Noddack published many other papers mostly in chemistry journals. A publication list is given by Fathi Habashi [cim1985fh].

Honors [29 WWWS] [cim1985fh]

First prize department of chemistry and metalurgy, Technical University, Berlin 1919
First woman to give a major address to the Society of German Chemists 1925
Justus Leibig Medal, German Chemical Society 1931, for the discovery of rhenium
Scheele Medal, Swedish Chemical Society 1934
Honorary Doctorate, University of Hamburg 1966
High Service Cross of the German Federal Republic 1966
Honorary Member, Spanish Society of Physics and Chemistry
Honorary Member, International Society of Nutrition Research

Jobs/Positions [29 WWWS]

1921-23 chemist, Allgemeine Electrische Gesellschaft (AEG), Berlin.
1924-25 chemist, Siemens & Halske, Berlin.
1925-35 chemist, Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt, Berlin.
1935-41 research associate, Institute Physical Chemistry, Univeristy of Freiburg (Germany).
1942-44 University of Strasbourg (France).
{With the liberation of France from the Nazi occupation, the Noddacks fled back to Germany and then lived in Turkey for an extended period. [cim1985fh]}
1956-68 Institute for Geochemical Research, Bamberg (Germany).


Diplom-Ingenieur (chemistry), Technical University, Berlin-Charlottenberg 1919.

Doktor Ingenieur (chemistry), Technical University, Berlin-Charlottenburg 1921.

Sources and References consulted

J. P. Adloff and [29 WWWS], [96 RLS], [cim1985fh],[1I N20], [60 CCDS], [12A GKS], [47 CML], [1979 JCE], [bhc1989fh]

Additional Information/Comments

See, for example, articles by Fathi Habashi: [cim1985fh] and [bhc1989fh]

On the failure to acknowledge Ida Noddack's 1934 suggestion that neutron bombardment might cause fragmentation (fission) of the uranium nucleus, Enrico Fermi's colleague and coworker in Rome, Emilio Segre, wrote

in Enrico Fermi: Physicist, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1970, (p.76) -

    "The possibility of fission, however, escaped us, although it was called specifically to our attention by Ida Noddack, who sent us an article in which she clearly indicated the possibility of interpreting the results as splitting of the heavy atom into two approximately equal parts. The reason for our blindness is not clear. Fermi said, many years later, that the available data on mass defect at that time were misleading and seemed to preclude the possibility of fission."
and in A Mind Always in Motion, University of California Press, Los Angeles 1993, (p.91) -
    "We did not seriously entertain the possibility of nuclear fission, although it had been mentioned by Ida Noddack, who sent us a reprint of her work. The reason for our blindness, shared by Hahn and Meitner , the Joilot-Curies, and everybody else working on the subject, is not clear to me even today."

A recent account of this matter is given by Teri Hopper in "She was ignored: Ida Noddack and the discovery of nuclear fission," Master's thesis, Stanford University 1990.

The following information was received from Professor J. P. Adloff of Strasbourg University:

    Together with her husband,Ida Noddack was appointed to our University by the Nazi when Alsace was annexed by Germany during WWW II. They held a position probably from 1942 to 1944 when the Nazis were thrown out by the Liberation army. They managed to cross the Rhine back to Nazi Germany. Walter Noddack was professor of chemical physics (we say chimie physique) at Strasbourg University and was helped by his wife Ida. Nothing is known about the scientific work of the couple during this period. In fact, the list of publications of the Noddacks lacks any entry from 1940 to 1951. In a 1954 paper the authors write " in 1944 an important enrichment of masurium had been obtained , but then all preparations were lost and the work was interrupted for 5 years". It is not known if the enrichment of masurium was carried out in Strasbourg.

Submitted by:

Nina Byers and Martha Keyes

Original citer's name:

Betty Anderson

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To cite this citation:
" Noddack, Ida Tacke." CWP < home >


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