Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.
There is in the United States an organisation called the Gordon Research Conferences, which is a marvellous institution in many subjects, there’s 20 or 30, something like that, Gordon Conferences held each year in particular subjects, of which inorganic chemistry is one. And perhaps not surprisingly I was invited, in due course, to give one of the main lectures on our work that I’ve just been talking about.
The point about the Gordon Conferences is twofold. The first is that the speakers talk about contemporary work, there is no photographing of slides, some of the work is already unpublished... still unpublished, and it is for discussion of work in progress.
The second point is that it is a discussion conference, residential, and in the case of inorganic chemistry it was held at New Hampton School, which is a well-known boys’ boarding school in upstate New Hampshire in delightful countryside, surrounded by wooded hills, Lake Winnipesaukee, Lake Pemigewasset, boating on the lakes, it’s tennis courts, walking, whatever, is there. And the idea is that one held conference meetings all morning, until lunch, there’s a communal lunch, and then the afternoon was free, either for discussing science with colleagues, taking up points, or going on the lake in a yacht, or playing tennis, whatever. Getting to know scientists as people. But a lot of chemistry was talked there as well.
And then in the evening, there was an evening session until about 11 o’clock. And that went on for five days. It was a full week’s conference. But it was a very fertile discussion conference, limited to 100 people, and there would be... perhaps 15 or 20 full papers given, but other people could join in the discussions.
Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.
USA, Gordon Research Conferences, New Hampton School, New Hampshire, Lake Winnipesaukee, Lake Pemigewasset