Goldschmidt was born in Zürich. His parents, Heinrich J. Goldschmidt and Amelie Koehne named their son after a colleague of Heinrich, Victor Meyer. There was a history of great scientists and philosophers in both families. The Goldschmidt family came to Norway 1901 when Heinrich Goldschmidt took over a chair as Professor of Chemistry in Kristiania (Oslo).
Goldschmidt’s first important contribution was within the field of geology and mineralogy. His two first larger works were his doctor thesis Die Kontaktmetamorphose im Kristianiagebiet and Geologisch-petrographische Studien im Hochgebirge des südlichen Norwegens.
A series of publications under the title Geochemische Verteilungsgesetze der Elemente is usually referred to as the start of geochemistry, the science that describes the distribution of the chemical elements in nature. The geochemistry has not only greatly inspired the field of mineralogy and geology but also theoretical chemistry and crystallography. Goldschmidt’s work on atom and ion radii has been of enormous importance for crystallography. His work in this area has no doubt inspired the introduction of the Pauling covalent, ionic, and the Van der Waals radius.
Goldschmidt took great interest in the technical application of his science; the utilization of olivine for industrial refractory goes back to him. He was for many years the head of the Norwegian Committee for Raw Material (Statens Råstoffkomité).
In 1912 Goldschmidt got the most distinguished Norwegian scientific award (the Fridtjof Nansen belonning) for his work Die Kontaktmetamorphose im Kristianiagebiet. The same year he was made Docent (Associate Professor) of Mineralogy and Petrography at the University of Oslo (known at that time as "Det Kongelige Frederiks Universitet").
In 1914 he applied for a professorship in Stockholm. The selecting committee unanimously chose Goldschmidt for the chair. But before the Swedish king had made the final official approbation, the University of Kristiania was able to secure him a similar chair. This was quite an unusual procedure and speed for appointing a professor. Usually it would take at least two years to obtain a new chair at a Norwegian university and one or two years to have the professor appointed. In Goldschmidt’s case it seems that all tradition of slowness was abolished, a fact that the University of Oslo shall always be grateful for. In 1929 Goldschmidt was called to the chair of mineralogy in Göttingen, but he returned to Oslo in 1935.
After the war he returned to Oslo again where he died, only 59 years old.
A larger work, Geochemistry, was edited and published posthumously in England in 1954.
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