James Andrew Harris

Last updated
James Andrew Harris
James Andrew Harris.jpeg
Born(1932-03-26)March 26, 1932
Waco, Texas
DiedDecember 12, 2000(2000-12-12) (aged 68)
Nationality American
Occupation Nuclear chemist
Notable work
Co-discovery of rutherfordium and dubnium

James Andrew Harris (March 26, 1932 – December 12, 2000) was a nuclear chemist who was involved in the discovery of elements 104 and 105 (rutherfordium and dubnium, respectively). Harris is known for being the first African American to contribute to the discovery of new elements. [1]

Contents

Personal life

James A. Harris was born on March 26, 1932 in Waco, Texas. [2] Harris' parents divorced when he was young, after which he moved to Oakland, California with his mother and attended high school. [1] Harris met his wife Helen at Huston-Tillotson College, where they were both completing their undergraduate studies; they were married in 1957 and had five children, Cedric, Keith, Hilda, Kimberly, and James II. Between the time of his graduation from college and his marriage, Harris served in the Army. [3] His hobbies included golf, traveling, and community activities. [1] James A. Harris died of a sudden illness on December 12, 2000. [4]

Education

James A. Harris attended McClymond High School in Oakland, California. After high school, Harris returned to Texas where he attended Huston-Tillotson College in Austin. [5] He studied chemistry and received a bachelor of science degree in 1953. [3] In 1975, Harris received a master's degree in Public Administration at California State University, Hayward. Harris was awarded an honorary doctorate from Huston-Tillotson College in 1973 for his co-discovery of rutherfordium and dubnium. [5] Harris was also a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. [5]

Career

Harris' first job in chemical research was at Tracerlab Inc. as a radiochemist; he worked there for five years. After that time, Harris left Tracerlab Inc. to work on the Nuclear Chemistry department of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at University of California-Berkeley working on isotope division. [2] In 1977, Harris was promoted to head of the Head of Engineering and Technical Services Division at Lawrence. [5] Harris retired from his work in the lab in 1988.

Harris worked in the Heavy Isotopes Production Group. His job was to design and purify targets that would be used to discover elements 104 and 105. These targets needed minimal impurities of elements such as lead to work. [6] Harris' colleagues praised his work, saying that it was high quality and good for elemental research. [6]

Controversy

Two research teams were simultaneously working to discover elements 104 and 105. One was Harris's team at the University of California-Berkeley and the other was a team of Russian scientists. Both teams successfully isolated the two elements around the same time, so there is dispute over which team was actually the first to isolate the elements. To ease the dispute, element 104 was given the name suggested by the American research team, rutherfordium, after the influential British physicist. Element 105 was subsequently given the name dubnium, representing the city where the Russian team worked. [7]

Organizations

Harris worked on the following organizations: [2]

Related Research Articles

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Bohrium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Bh and atomic number 107. It is named after Danish physicist Niels Bohr. As a synthetic element, it can be created in a laboratory but is not found in nature. All known isotopes of bohrium are extremely radioactive; the most stable known isotope is 270Bh with a half-life of approximately 61 seconds, though the unconfirmed 278Bh may have a longer half-life of about 690 seconds.

Dubnium Chemical element with atomic number 105

Dubnium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Db and atomic number 105. Dubnium is highly radioactive: the most stable known isotope, dubnium-268, has a half-life of about 28 hours. This greatly limits the extent of research on dubnium.

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Lawrencium Chemical element with atomic number 103

Lawrencium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Lr and atomic number 103. It is named in honor of Ernest Lawrence, inventor of the cyclotron, a device that was used to discover many artificial radioactive elements. A radioactive metal, lawrencium is the eleventh transuranic element and is also the final member of the actinide series. Like all elements with atomic number over 100, lawrencium can only be produced in particle accelerators by bombarding lighter elements with charged particles. Thirteen isotopes of lawrencium are currently known; the most stable is 266Lr with a half-life of 11 hours, but the shorter-lived 260Lr is most commonly used in chemistry because it can be produced on a larger scale.

Rutherfordium Chemical element with atomic number 104

Rutherfordium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Rf and atomic number 104, named after New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford. As a synthetic element, it is not found in nature and can only be created in a laboratory. It is radioactive; the most stable known isotope, 267Rf, has a half-life of approximately 1.3 hours.

Seaborgium Chemical element with atomic number 106

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Huston–Tillotson University

Huston–Tillotson UniversityHTU) is a private historically black university in Austin, Texas. Established in 1875, Huston–Tillotson University was the first institution of higher learning in Austin. The university is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, and the United Negro College Fund. Huston–Tillotson University awards bachelor's degrees in business, education, the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, science, and technology and a Master's degree in educational leadership. The university also offers alternative teacher certification and academic programs for undergraduates interested in pursuing post-graduate degrees in law and medicine.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 "James A. Harris". www.cpnas.org. National Academy of Sciences. 2002. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  2. 1 2 3 Brown, M.C. "James Andrew Harris: Nuclear Chemist". www.fofweb.com. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  3. 1 2 "Harris, James A." Online Infobase. Facts on File. 2014.
  4. Burke, Anabel. "James Andrew Harris". Waco History. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "James Andrew Harris: Nuclear Chemist". webfiles.uci.edu. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  6. 1 2 Gonzales, Lisa (2000). "Jim Harris left his mark on science and community". Berkeley Lab Currents. Berkeley Lab.
  7. Green, John. "Who was the African American Nuclear Scientist who discovered the Elements Rutherfordium & Hahnium?" . Retrieved April 4, 2016.