March 28, 2012


SUBJECT:    James R. Arnold Memorial Tribute Saturday, May 5

To honor our friend and colleague, Jim Arnold, a memorial tribute is to be held at the University of California, San Diego Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Building HSEC Auditorium at 2 pm on Saturday, May 5, 2012 (Jim's birthday). Please mark your calendar for this special event. For further information, such as a map to the building or information about hotels nearby offering a UCSD discount, please contact Virginia Perry (, tel. 858-534-0212, fax 858.534.6693). This event is not sponsored by the Health Sciences Educational Center.

James R. Arnold - Professor of Chemistry - 1923 - 2012

James R. Arnold, the first Harold C. Urey Professor of Chemistry at the UC, San Diego (UCSD), died on January 6, 2012 at age 88 ending a long and distinguished career during which he made major contributions to the development and application of methods for measurement of cosmic ray derived radioisotopes to determine the ages of diverse geological and biological materials. Jim studied chemistry as an undergraduate at Princeton University and remained there to work on the Manhattan Project and obtain his PhD degree in 1946 with a thesis that remains classified. Subsequent postdoctoral work with Willard Libby at the University of Chicago involved the demonstration that measurement of carbon-14 could be used to establish the age of materials derived from atmospheric carbon dioxide, work that earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Libby in 1960. Following his postdoctoral work Jim held a faculty position at the University of Chicago but returned to Princeton as a faculty member in 1955. There he studied other cosmic ray produced radioisotopes for determining the history of meteorites, of rocks and soils, and the history of cosmic radiation. In 1958 Jim was enticed by Roger Revelle to move to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla and to participate in the planning of the new institution that would become UCSD. In 1960 he became the first chairman of the chemistry department and, with Harold Urey and Hans Suess, recruited additional chemistry faculty for the new campus. At the same time he became a consultant for NASA and played an important role over the next decade in developing the scientific plans for the Apollo missions. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1964. Jim was heavily involved in NASA planning for the Apollo manned missions to the Moon and pioneered the determination of compositions of planetary surfaces by gamma-ray spectroscopy, which was used for mapping the chemical composition of the moon. In 1969 Jim was in Houston when the first lunar samples were returned and then brought samples back to his laboratory for analysis. These studies provided important insights concerning processes on the Moon and the history of solar cosmic rays. Jim received many awards, including the E.O. Lawrence award by the Atomic energy Commission in 1968, a NASA "Exceptional Scientific Achievement" medal in 1970 and the Meteoritical Society's Leonard Medal in 1976. Jim founded the California Space Institute in 1979 and served as its director until 1989. In 1980 an 8-mile-wide asteroid discovered by Eleanor Helin and Eugene Shoemaker was named "2143 jimarnold" in his honor. Jim is survived by his wife Louise, their sons Bob, Ted and Ken, and four grandchildren.

Mark Thiemens
Dean, Division of Physical Sciences

Robert Continetti
Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry