My first published paper, on the crystal structure of the mineral apatite and its relation to that of tooth and bone material, was written jointly with the distinguished crystallographer Dr Arnold Beevers and read to the Mineralogical Society, London, June 7, 1945. The work was done while I was an undergraduate and Dr Beevers was an internationally known crystallographer. Most of our instruments (including computers and X-ray cameras) were made by Dr Beevers' own hands.
Our work resulted from Professor Victor M. Goldschmidt's suggestion that Dr Beevers should refine the structure of apatite. The mineral is widely disseminated as a minor constituent of granitic and other common rocks, and apatite is the major crustal source of phosphorous. While visiting Edinburgh, Goldschmidt gave memorable lectures on how trace elements are selectively captured during the growth of crystals acting as three-dimensional fishing nets of exactly the right size. Goldschmidt – recognised today as "Father of Modern Geochemistry" – was then in Aberdeen at the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research.
Victor Goldschmidt was born in Zurich in 1888. The family moved to Oslo in 1901 – when his father was appointed Professor of Chemistry – and in 1911 he received his PhD for his study of Contact Metamorphism, and three years later he became director of the Mineralogical Institute of the University of Oslo. When the Norwegian Government set up a Commission and Laboratory for the study of raw materials, Goldschmidt was appointed Director. The extraction of apatite to be used as a fertilizer was one of his successful projects.
In 1929 Goldschmidt accepted the chair in mineralogy and petrology at the University of Göttingen. But his outstandingly successful research was abruptly terminated in 1935 when he realised his imminent danger from the Nazi's persecution of the Jews, and he immediately returned to Oslo.
When the Germans invaded Norway in 1940, Goldschmidt was in still greater danger. He was arrested and released, and in 1942 he was rescued from a ship destined to take Norwegian Jews to Poland. The Norwegian resistance arranged for him to be flown to Britain, where he was welcomed at the Macaulay Institute and Rothamsted. His health had been seriously undermined and he spent much of his time in hospitals and nursing homes. Dr Beevers took me to meet Goldschmidt when he was in a nursing home in East Castle Road, Edinburgh – the house had belonged to a cousin of my mother's. In June 1946 he returned to Norway. On 20 March 1947 Goldschmidt died at the age of 59. When I met him (probably in late 1945 or early 1946) he was in bed I thought he was in his high 80s
The highest honor in Geochemistry is The Victor Moritz Goldschmidt Medal
For further information see: K. Hans Wedepohl: The Importance of the Pioneering Work by V.M. Goldschmidt for Modern Geochemistry. ... and many other web sites
by C.A. Beevers, D.Sc, F.Inst.P., F.R.S.E. & D.B. McIntyre, B.Sc.
London, September 1946, vol.XXVII, No.194, pp.254-257, plates XVI-XVIII.
[Read June 7, 1945]
The Editor of the Mineralogical Magazine has kindly given permission to reproduce the 1946 paper here. To view click on fluor-apatite