Our heritage of the elements

  • Glenn T. Seaborg
The 1979 Distinguished Lectureship in Materials and Society

DOI: 10.1007/BF02657166

Cite this article as:
Seaborg, G.T. MTB (1980) 11: 5. doi:10.1007/BF02657166


The role of our heritage of chemical elements, natural and man-made, in determining our accomplishments throughout our history will be described. From the Stone Age, to the beginning of the recent era of understanding of their nature and until the present, mastery of the utilization of the elements has determined the destiny of nations." Whereas even a century ago all but a handful of the elements were mere chemical curiosities, almost all of this great heritage is beginning to be put to use. Today, with our advanced state of knowledge and the incentive of continuing our creative evolution of remaking and fully utilizing our environment, we have sufficient perspective to appreciate just how rich and important is our legacy of the chemical elements. And when the broad, rich, complex spectrum of properties of the pure elements falls short of our needs, we find that we can obtain an enormous variety of properties by combining or mixing them or synthesizing new elements using the Periodic Table as a guiding principle. Our future progress and well being will depend in large part on learning more about the chemical elements and their combinations. These new frontiers continue to be frontiers of the mind.

Copyright information

© American society for metals and the metallurgical society of AIME 1980

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  • Glenn T. Seaborg

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