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Hevesy 125 yrs

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Hevesy anecdotes, 2010

Hevesy dissolves Nobel medals - Copenhagen, 1940

Quoting Hevesy (George Hevesy, Adventures in Radioisotope Research, Vol. 1, p. 27, Pergamon, New York, 1962), from the section Max von Laue's and James Franck's Nobel medals:

"My work was interrupted for only one day during the enemy occupation of Denmark. When, on the morning of Denmark's occupation (9 April 1940, ed.), I arrived in the laboratory, I found Bohr worrying about Max von Laue's Nobel medal, which Laue had sent to Copenhagen for safe-keeping. In Hitler's empire it was almost a capital offence to send gold out of the country, and, Laue's name being engraved into the medal, the discovery of this by the invading forces would have had very serious consequences for him. (Three years later the invading army occupied Bohr's institute). I suggested that we should bury the medal, but Bohr did not like this idea as the medal might be unearthed. I decided to dissolve it. While the invading forces marched in the streets of Copenhagen, I was busy dissolving Laue's and also James Franck's medals. After the war, the gold was recovered and the Nobel Foundation generously presented Laue and Frank with new Nobel medals."

Hevesy and boarding house food - Manchester, 1912

Hevesy (Transcript of the recording of Speech by G. Hevesy, "Radiation Physics in the Early Days", Physics Department Meeting, Berkeley, California, May 23, 1962), in answer to Question: "I'd like to ask Dr. Hevesy about the story I heard about the tracer experiment involving some boarding house food." replied
"Oh, that was no proper tracer experiment. If you mix thorium D in a hash, that is no tracer experiment: that is just a radioactive measurement. This landlady served always the same food all week, and when I suggested this, she said it was not possible - 'Everyday fresh food is served.' So one day when she didn't look I added some dose of radioactive material. And the next day the hash was radioactive!"

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Last updated: 2010