Henry Rzepa's Blog Chemistry with a twist

August 22, 2018

Early “curly” (reaction) arrows. Those of Ingold in 1926.

In 2012, I wrote a story of the first ever reaction curly arrows, attributed to Robert Robinson in 1924. At the time there was a great rivalry between him and another UK chemist, Christopher Ingold, with the latter also asserting his claim for their use. As part of the move to White City a lot of bookshelves were cleared out from the old buildings in South Kensington, with the result that yesterday a colleague brought me a slim volume they had found entitled The Journal of the Imperial College Chemical Society (Volume 6). 


November 13, 2011

The dawn of organic reaction mechanism: the prequel.

Following on from Armstrong’s almost electronic theory of chemistry in 1887-1890, and Beckmann’s radical idea around the same time that molecules undergoing transformations might do so via a reaction mechanism involving unseen intermediates (in his case, a transient enol of a ketone) I here describe how these concepts underwent further evolution in the early 1920s. My focus is on Edith Hilda Usherwood, who was then a PhD student at Imperial College working under the supervision of Martha Whitely.1


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