Geology Reference
In-Depth Information
record brimful of promise. Radioactive minerals, for the geol-
ogist, are clocks wound up at the time of their origin [and] ...
we are now confident that the means of reading these time-
keepers is in our possession. With the acceptance of a reli-
able time-scale, geology will have gained an invaluable key
to further discovery. In every branch of the science its mission
will be to unify and correlate, and with its help a fresh light
will be thrown on the more fascinating problems of the Earth
and its Past.' We can almost see him marching forward on his
crusade, banner held high!
With his book on The Age of the Earth just completed, an event
occurred that, indirectly, was to have a great influence on his
work: Bob Lawson was o┬Čered a post at the recently opened
Radium Institute in Vienna. Established in 1910 with a contri-
bution from an anonymous donor - about a million pounds in
today's money - the Radium Institute in Vienna was built to rival
work being done on radioactivity in France and Britain. The
benefactor reasoned that since Austria housed the important
Joachimsthal uranium mine, from where Marie Curie had
obtained her uranium and radium, and since there was such
world-wide interest in radioactivity, then Vienna should have a
Radium Institute of its own to compete with the leaders in this
science. It immediately attracted some of the best brains in
Europe, and in 1913 Lawson found himself working alongside
people such as Viktor Hess and Georg Von Hevesy, both of
whom went on to win Nobel Prizes, and Fritz Paneth, who was
later to play his own role in the Dating Game but now, like
Lawson, was just starting his career. It is an indication of
Lawson's ability that he was invited to work at the Institute and
he soon became a valued member of the international team, but
with the outbreak of war he found himself unable to get home
and was thus detained in Vienna for the next four years. As
Austrian nationals were called up and student numbers in the
Institute declined, Lawson, with the help of some Polish
refugees, became a crucial figure in holding the department
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