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Attending the lectures of the Cambridge notables: Bertrand Russell


Theoretical chemistry with Lennard-Jones
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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Lennard-Jones was a theoretical chemist, and he was at that stage doing some world-shattering work on what is called molecular orbital theory. We needn't go in to that now, but I was interested in it because in fact theoretical chemistry did interest me. What I hadn't said earlier was that in my spare time I was doing... an MSc degree in Melbourne and being a tutor in Trinity College, I also attended some extra lectures and some of those were in pure mathematics; I actually got up, with Ray Martin, up to final – third-year – pure mathematics, so we did know a bit of mathematics; and I thought it would be useful to see if I could go to Lennard-Jones' lectures, and I learnt a lot from those. Later, as it transpired, I did a post-doctoral year with Lennard-Jones, and in the seminar then at the time was John Pople, whom you will recognise later. He went to America, got a Nobel Prize for his superb work not only in NMR but in theoretical chemistry.

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: Melbourne University, Trinity College, Cambridge, University of Cambridge, USA, Nobel Prize, John Lennard-Jones, Ray Martin, John Pople

Duration: 1 minute, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011