Theodore William Richards Biography
(The First American Scientist to Receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
Birthday: January 31, 1868 (Aquarius)
Born In: Germantown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Theodore William Richards was an American scientist who was awarded the 1914 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the atomic weights of chemical elements. Born to distinguished parents, it was natural that he too would find a place among greats. He would later go on to credit his parents for encouraging and helping him on the path to success. Science beckoned him at a very young age and he, in turn, pursued it till his last breath. Academically, he was an exceptional student who was awarded many fellowships and honors. For someone who had no formal education until the age of 14, he earned a doctorate by the time he was 20. On completion of his academics, he became a teacher and researcher at Harvard University, remaining there for the most part of his career. He received many honorary degrees and medals throughout his career that included a Harvard professorship endowed in his name. Though most of his work dealt with the atomic weights of elements, his most productive contributions were in the fields of thermochemistry and electrochemistry. Verification of the concept of isotopes, determination of the atomic weights of over 55 elements, the discovery of the Third law of thermodynamics, and many such works are evidence of his invaluable research.