March 9th is Stanley Thompson's birthday. Thompson was an American nuclear chemist when nuclear chemistry was a brand new subject. In the early days of the Manhattan Project plutonium was produced in very small quantities, typically on the order of micrograms. Thompson was the chemist who developed the process that allowed the refining of plutonium on an industrial scale to amounts that would enable practical applications.
After the war, he returned to the University of California, Berkeley's chemistry department and was instrumental in the discovery of the actinides berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium and mendelevium. He was responsible for identifying the chemical properties of these new elements.
Thompson is one of the lesser known personalities of the early days of nuclear chemistry, but his contributions were significant. Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.