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Proof of the accepted chemical theory of the structure of benzene


The structure of molecules (Part 2)
Edward Teller Scientist
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The two formulae had been proposed in the last century by Kekulé. One of the amusing points, politically amusing points of it was that this chemical theory had been refuted, forbidden, by the leadership in the for- Soviet Union. They referred to a Russian paper of the last century saying a molecule is a molecule is a molecule, it has one formula. To get two formulae for one molecule is nonsense. The Kekulé idea, on the other hand, in the United States, was taken up by one good chemist who actually is the one person I know of, perhaps there are others, who got two Nobel Prizes, one for chemistry, one for politics. And with one I agree more than with the other. And the work on chemistry includes his explanation of the simultaneous existence of two formulae for the same molecule. Linus Pauling has understood, at an early state, quantum mechanics. And he said- Yes, the configuration of the electron wave functions can correspond to one Kekulé formula or the other Kekulé formula. One then can get a lower energy state by describing the wave function of the molecule as a sum of these two wave functions, corresponding to the two Kekulé formulae. Sounded plausible, was accepted.

The late Hungarian-American physicist Edward Teller helped to develop the atomic bomb and provided the theoretical framework for the hydrogen bomb. During his long and sometimes controversial career he was a staunch advocate of nuclear power and also of a strong defence policy, calling for the development of advanced thermonuclear weapons.

Listeners: John H. Nuckolls

John H. Nuckolls was Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1988 to 1994. He joined the Laboratory in 1955, 3 years after its establishment, with a masters degree in physics from Columbia. He rose to become the Laboratory's Associate Director for Physics before his appointment as Director in 1988.

Nuckolls, a laser fusion and nuclear weapons physicist, helped pioneer the use of computers to understand and simulate physics phenomena at extremes of temperature, density and short time scales. He is internationally recognised for his work in the development and control of nuclear explosions and as a pioneer in the development of laser fusion.

Duration: 2 minutes, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008