Harrison Brown, (b. Sept. 26, 1917, Sheridan, Wyo., U.S.—d. Dec. 8, 1986, Albuquerque, N.M.), American geochemist known for his role in isolating plutonium for its use in the first atomic bombs and for his studies regarding meteorites and the Earth’s origin.
Brown studied chemistry, attending the University of California at Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (Ph.D., 1941). He served (1943–46) on the staff of the Clinton Engineer Works (now Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Oak Ridge, Tenn., where he supervised the production of plutonium for the Manhattan Project. Like Albert Einstein and other scientists who had been instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb, Brown later spoke out against the further development of nuclear weapons. From 1946 to 1951 he was affiliated with the Institute of Nuclear Studies at the University of Chicago, and it was there that he began analyzing trace elements in meteorites. He taught at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, from 1951 to 1977 and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1955. He worked at Resource Systems Institute in Honolulu (1977–83) and was editor in chief for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists from 1985 until his death.
In addition to his work on geochronology and planetary science, Brown was an active campaigner for population control, arms control, and human resources. His books include Must Destruction Be Our Destiny? (1946), The Challenge of Man’s Future (1954), The Next Hundred Years (1957; with James Bonner and John Weir), The Cassiopeia Affair (1968; with Chloe Zerwick), and The Human Future Revisited (1978).