Posts Tagged ‘organic chemist’

The atom and the molecule: A one-day symposium on 23 March, 2016 celebrating Gilbert N. Lewis.

Friday, December 11th, 2015

You might have noticed the occasional reference here to the upcoming centenary of the publication of Gilbert N. Lewis’ famous article entitled “The atom and the molecule“.[1] A symposium exploring his scientific impact and legacy will be held in London on March 23, 2016, exactly 70 years to the day since his death. A list of the speakers and their titles is shown below; there is no attendance fee, but you must register as per the instructions below.



  1. G.N. Lewis, "THE ATOM AND THE MOLECULE.", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 38, pp. 762-785, 1916.

WATOC2014 Conference report. Emergent themes.

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

This second report highlights two “themes”, or common ideas that seem to emerge spontaneously from diversely different talks. Most conferences do have them.


Henry Armstrong: almost an electronic theory of chemistry!

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Henry Armstrong studied at the Royal College of Chemistry from 1865-7 and spent his subsequent career as an organic chemist at the Central College of the Imperial college of Science and technology until he retired in 1912. He spent the rest of his long life railing against the state of modern chemistry, saving much of his vitriol against (inter alia) the absurdity of ions, electronic theory in chemistry, quantum mechanics and nuclear bombardment in physics. He snarled at Robinson’s and Ingold’s new invention (ca 1926-1930) of electronic arrow pushing with the put down “bent arrows never hit their marks“.1  He was dismissed as an “old fogy, stuck in a time warp about 1894.”1 So why on earth would I want to write about him? Read on…


The Cyclol Hypothesis for protein structure: castles in the air.

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Most scientific theories emerge slowly, over decades, but others emerge fully formed virtually overnight as it were (think Einstein in 1905). A third category is the supernova type, burning brightly for a short while, but then vanishing (almost) without trace shortly thereafter. The structure of DNA (of which I have blogged elsewhere) belongs to the second class, whilst one of the brightest (and now entirely forgotten) examples of the supernova type concerns the structure of proteins. In 1936, it must have seemed a sure bet that the first person to come up with a successful theory of the origins of the (non-random) relatively rigid structure of proteins would inevitably win a Nobel prize. Of course this did happen for that other biologically important system, DNA, some 17 years later. Compelling structures for larger molecules providing reliable atom-atom distances based on crystallography were still in the future in 1936, and so structural theories contained a fair element of speculation and hopefully inspired guesswork (much as cosmological theories appear to have nowadays!).


Semantically rich molecules

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Peter Murray-Rust in his blog asks for examples of the Scientific Semantic Web, a topic we have both been banging on about for ten years or more (DOI: 10.1021/ci000406v). What we are seeking of course is an example of how scientific connections have been made using inference logic from semantically rich statements to be found on the Web (ideally connections that might not have previously been spotted by humans, and lie overlooked and unloved in the scientific literature). Its a tough cookie, and I look forward to the examples that Peter identifies. Meanwhile, I thought I might share here a semantically rich molecule. OK, I identified this as such not by using the Web, but as someone who is in the process of delivering an undergraduate lecture course on the topic of conformational analysis. This course takes the form of presenting a set of rules or principles which relate to the conformations of molecules, and which themselves derive from quantum mechanics, and then illustrating them with selected annotated examples. To do this, a great many semantic connections have to be made, and in the current state of play, only a human can really hope to make most of these. We really look to the semantic web as it currently is to perhaps spot a few connections that might have been overlooked in this process. So, below is a molecule, and I have made a few semantic connections for it (but have not actually fully formalised them in this blog; that is a different topic I might return to at some time). I feel in my bones that more connections could be made, and offer the molecule here as the fuse!