George de Hevesy was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of radioactive tracers. In addition to developing this technique, he also explored the main areas of its application. Of these, one of the most important was the study of certain metabolic processes in living organisms using this method. His work in this field established a new branch of science, which is now referred to as nuclear medicine.
De Hevesy studied chemistry in Budapest, Berlin and Freiburg, receiving his doctorate in Freiburg in 1908. He developed the principle of radioactive tracing in Rutherford’s laboratory in 1911–1914, but was only able to apply it in practice two decades later.
During World War I, he continued his research in Budapest while also performing military service. After the war, in 1920 Niels Bohr invited him to Copenhagen, where he discovered the 72nd element of the periodic table, hafnium, together with his Dutch colleague Coster in 1922.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1943 for “for his work on the use of isotopes as tracers in the study of chemical processes”. Thanks to the Nobel Prize, he was able to settle as a Swedish citizen in Stockholm. During this period of his life, his research focused mainly on metabolic processes and he developed several examination methods for humans which are still used as routine procedures today.
Marking the 75th anniversary of his Nobel Prize, the Magyar Nemzeti Bank is issuing a commemorative coin dedicated to George de Hevesy. The Hevesy coin issued in 2018 is another member of the series of coins celebrating Hungarian Nobel Prize recipients, which was launched in 2012. (Other coins in the series so far: 2012: Albert Szent-Györgyi, 2013: Jenő Wigner, 2014: Róbert Bárány, 2015: Richárd Zsigmondy)
The 5,000 forint proof coin is .925 (sterling) silver and weighs 12.5 grams. It is oval in shape, measuring 30 x 25 mm. Issue limit is 5,000 coins
The front of the coin alludes to the medical diagnostic applications of de Hevesy’s Nobel Prize winning discovery, schematically depicting the identification of an anomaly with radioactive isotopes, using a human form made of points (molecules) and pulsating circular lines to denote the radiation.
The pulsating effect is reinforced with a special rainbow effect on the silver proof coin. The central motif on the back of the coin is a profile portrait of George de Hevesy, with the legend HEVESY GYÖRGY • NOBEL-DÍJ • 1943 (GEORGE HEVESY • NOBEL PRIZE • 1943) on the top and RADIOAKTÍV IZOTÓPOS NYOMJELZÉS KÉMIAI ALKALMAZÁSÁÉRT (FOR THE DISCOVERY OF RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPE TRACERS) on the bottom. The master mark of designer Zoltán Endrődy is located on the left side of the coin, above the subject’s shoulder.