The scientific community lost a towering figure on Feb. 25 with the death of Glenn T. Seaborg, who was chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees of Science Service, publisher of Science News.
Seaborg's distinguished career began in the chemistry department of the University of California, Berkeley, where he later served as chancellor and associate director of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.
Seaborg was awarded the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he shared with the late Edward McMillan, in recognition of his work with the transuranium elements, those beyond uranium on the periodic table. He discovered 10 atomic elements, including plutonium.
During World War II, under the aegis of the Manhattan Project, Seaborg assisted in the creation of the atomic bomb. He chaired the Atomic Energy Commission from 1961 to 1971. In that work, Seaborg channeled his ambivalence toward the atomic bomb into developing peaceful uses for nuclear energy.
A combination of intellect and warmth allowed him to move freely in the worlds of academia, research, and policy making. Seaborg was keenly aware of the need to make science accessible. From 1966 to 1995, he served as chairman of the Science Service Board of Trustees. He strongly supported Science News' role in bringing timely research information to nonscientists.
Seaborg's love of science was never more evident than in his interactions with young people. He figured large in the Science Talent Search, a scholarship program administered by Science Service. His enthusiasm and sense of adventure rubbed off on the high school seniors who participated in the final rounds of competition.
In his lectures to STS finalists, he playedwith no small degree of pridea tape of his appearance on a 1945 CBS radio program called "Adventures in Science," hosted by Science Service Director Watson Davis. The broadcast showcased Seaborg's talent for translating newly discovered knowledge into concepts easily digested by a general audience.
Seaborg was the living embodiment of Science Service's mission: the public understanding of science. His life is a source of inspiration to us all.
Donald R. Harless