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My VIP Stockholm tourist guide


Meeting Endre Berner and Odd Hassel
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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And as luck would have it, the wife of the lad that I was staying with – sorry, the mother of the lad that I was staying with, the wife of the man – she was the sister of the professor of organic chemistry at Oslo University, Endre Berner. And she rang her brother and said, ‘We’ve got this student – can he stay with you? He’s got nowhere to stay in Oslo’. ‘Certainly’, said Berner. So I went and found my way with their instructions to Professor Berner’s house. And he, again to cut a long story short, introduced me to Odd Hassel, who was a Nobel Prize-winning – well, he got the Nobel Prize later – worker in electron-diffraction, and it was he that worked out the conformations around a benzene [sic, should be cyclohexane] ring with the chlorobenzenes [sic, should be chlorocyclohexanes], and was able to tell which of the conformations there were, and you will recall that the Nobel Prize was shared between Odd Hassel and Derek Barton at Imperial College, because he was using conformational analysis in structuring his organic syntheses.

So I had this wonderful day in Odd Hassel’s laboratory talking with Bastiansen, his assistant, and seeing how they work, and then getting on to all sorts of other things, so that was a very wonderful day in Bergen [sic]. And then the next day, Hassel was busy, so I went to see the Vigeland exhibition, a sculpture exhibition in Oslo, and then on to Sweden, where I went to Stockholm.

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: University of Oslo, Nobel Prize, Imperial College London, Oslo, Sweden, Stockholm, Endre Berner, Odd Hassel, Derek Barton, Emanuel Vigeland

Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011