Posts Tagged ‘United States’

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.

The chemical Web at 22 and where it might go.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

This post is prompted by the appearance of a retrospective special issue of C&E news, with what appears to be its very own Website: It contains articles and interviews with many interesting people, along with several variations on the historical (albeit rather USA-centric) perspectives and a time-line covers many of the key innovations (again, from a USA-perspective). Some subjects are covered in greater depth, including computational chemistry. The periodic table too gets coverage, but surprisingly that is not of Mark Winter’s WebElements, which carries the impressive 1993-2015 continuous timeline (hence 22 in the title!).  


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…


Computers 1967-2011: a personal perspective. Part 3. 1990-1994.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

In 1986 or so, molecular modelling came of age. Richard Counts, who ran an organisation called QCPE (here I had already submitted several of the program codes I had worked on) had a few years before contacted me to ask for my help with his Roadshow. He had started these in the USA as a means of promoting QCPE, which was the then main repository of chemistry codes, and as a means of showing people how to use the codes. My task was to organise a speakers list, the venue being in Oxford in a delightful house owned by the university computing services. Access to VAX computers was provided, via VT100 terminals. Amazingly, these terminals could do very primitive molecular graphics (using delightfully named escape codes, which I learnt to manipulate).


Capturing penta-coordinate carbon! (Part 1).

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

The bimolecular nucleophilic substitution reaction at saturated carbon is an icon of organic chemistry, and is better known by its mechanistic label, SN2. It is normally a slow reaction, with half lives often measured in hours. This implies a significant barrier to reaction (~15-20 kcal/mol) for the transition state, shown below (X is normally both a good nucleophile and a good nucleofuge/leaving group, such as halide, cyanide, etc.  Y can have a wide variety of forms).