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The astounding rate of advance in chemistry


Patterns of the invisible
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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So there was a lot of work on the teaching of chemistry at that stage. And, in fact, the inaugural lecture that I gave which was called, if I remember correctly, ‘Patterns of the Invisible: the Shape of Atoms and Molecules’. What I used as the theme there was, atoms and molecules are so small that we cannot actually see them. How can we talk about their shapes? How do we know anything about their shapes? So I went through the various spectroscopic techniques and I had a lot of demonstrations where one had a Perkin Elmer infrared spectrometer and as it went through it absorbed some... it dipped like that – I had a little light on the cursor. So that was a good experience of giving an inaugural lecture.

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.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

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.

Tags: spectroscopy, Perkin-Elmer 21 Infrared Spectrometer

Duration: 59 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011