Thomas Urey Passes Away
Thomas Urey was an individual of great wisdom, strength, and love who leaves his loved ones mourning his departure from this earthly realm. We share in their sorrow as the family announces his passing.
In 1953, Stanley Miller attempted to recreate conditions on early Earth in a laboratory by mixing hydrogen, methane, and ammonia gases within an enclosed apparatus – an effect he called “Urey reactions”.
Early Life and Education
Urey attended Amish grade and high schools before teaching country schools in Indiana and Montana before earning his Bachelor of Science (BS) degree at the University of Montana in 1917.
He served as a physical chemist on the Manhattan Project, overseeing development of gaseous diffusion methods to isolate isotopes of uranium from nuclear waste. Working alongside several notable scientists like Arthur Compton and Enrico Fermi as well as overall project director Leslie Groves.
Urey was dedicated to the ideal of world government throughout his life and regularly advocated against war. He battled against the 1946 May-Johnson bill which would have given military control of nuclear research; additionally he was an early opponent of Joseph McCarthy and helped with efforts to save Julius and Ethel Rosenberg from execution.
By the 1930s, Urey had already established himself as an accomplished scientist. He published numerous works, such as his widely read ‘Atoms, Quanta and Molecules.’
He was known for his sense of duty, serving on the Manhattan Project during World War II and helping develop an isotope separation method for uranium hexafluoride; later used to make an atomic bomb.
Brown explained that her relationship with her grandchildren helps ease some of her grief over losing Tom Urey. Additionally, they take comfort from playing sports together.
Achievement and Honors
Urey was honored with numerous accolades during his career, such as receiving the Willard Gibbs Medal (American Chemical Society) in 1934; Davy Medal from Royal Society London (1934); Franklin Institute medal (1943); Medal of Merit from President Truman for Manhattan Project work and National Medal of Science from President Johnson for space program work respectively; as well as many honorary doctorate degrees from universities worldwide.
Shindell paints an exquisite portrait of Urey’s life, showing how his religious upbringing informed both his conviction that nuclear weapons were dangerous and his dedication to research integrity. Furthermore, Shindell reveals how Urey’s scientific contributions pushed chemistry in new directions, ultimately contributing to Apollo moon landing success while inspiring political activism inspired by moral and social responsibility.
Urey was an exemplary family man with a deep appreciation for sports – particularly basketball – as well as an avid collector of jokes. His sense of humor was unique and was known to wryly comment upon current affairs and politics. Urey actively opposed war through congressional debates on nuclear issues.
Urey was the pioneer of Cosmochemistry and sought to understand its foundation. Additionally, he dabbled in geology and carried out paleontological research before publishing several books such as Atoms, molecules and Stories as well as The Planets.
Urey was an influential and supportive advisor of NASA’s space program. He persuaded Robert Jastrow, NASA’s chief scientist, to include lunar studies as part of their mission statement and was co-investigator on Ranger lunar impact experiments.
Thomas Urey has not only established himself professionally, but is also an acclaimed philanthropist worth an estimated $5 billion. His wealth has been donated to various causes ranging from providing aid for those in need to educating children.
He is married to Mai Bright Urey and is blessed with two daughters, Danielle Ashlee and Telia Urey. The entire family resides in Liberia.
Joel Thomas Urey died in 1954, following the deaths of both of their father, Jacob Albert Urey and mother Ella Mae Shingledecker / DeLong. Wilda Elizabeth Barrett (born Urey) and Sara Sephrona Urey were his eight siblings with one being Wilda Elizabeth Barrett who gave birth to Joel Thomas Urey Jr. who is still living today.