PANETH, FRIEDRICH ADOLF (1887–1958), Austrian physical and radioactivity chemist. Paneth, a son of Joseph Paneth, a physiologist who discovered certain histological cells which still bear his name, was born in Vienna. Both his parents were born Jews, but they brought up their children as Protestants. Paneth worked from 1912 to 1917 at the Institute for Radium Research in Vienna, where with the Hungarian chemist George Hevesy he carried out the first use of radioactive tracers to measure physical properties. From 1918 he held professorships successively at the Prague Institute of Technology, and Hamburg, Berlin, Koenigsberg universities. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 he went to London, where he worked first at the Imperial College and then as reader in atomic chemistry in the University of London. In 1939 he was appointed professor of chemistry at Durham University, where he remained for 14 years. During this time he was chairman of the chemistry division of the British Canadian atomic energy team in Montreal (1943–45). In 1947 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. On his retirement from Durham in 1953 he returned to Germany as director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry at Mainz.

Paneth's prolific output of scientific papers dealt mainly with radioactive tracers, free radicals, and neutron radiation. He developed new methods for the analysis of helium and used them to determine the age and origin of meteorites. His books include Radio-Elements as Indicators, and Other Selected Topics in Inorganic Chemistry (1928) and The Origin of Meteorites (1940).


H. Dingle et al. (eds.), Chemistry and Beyond (1964); H.J. Emeléus, in: Royal Society of London, Biographical Memoirs, 6 (1960), 227–46; Chemiker-Zeitung, 81 (1957), 618.

[Samuel Aaron Miller]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.