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The possibilities after Cambridge


Summing up the Cambridge experience
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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[Q] Well, it seems to me, Norman, I think your period at Cambridge was inspirational in so many different ways, but how would you sum up your experiences? I mean, what value did you take away from Cambridge?

There are several things, one has to say. The first is the atmosphere of the place – one had this feeling that everything was going on around, there were world-famous people that one was meeting all the time, talking about their work, being involved in their work. And one really felt that this was a place where everything was happening and I wanted to take part in it and contribute as well. But, more specifically, I got a feeling from Harry Emeléus of how to tackle preparative chemical research. My work in Melbourne had been… on solid state chemistry, a totally different field and was looking at the properties of nonstoichiometric solids. In Cambridge it was much more preparative work in the lab, but I was preparing compounds and then studying their physical properties as I’ve explained, particularly with relevance to catalysis. But I picked up many techniques there; had good interaction with others in the laboratory and, of course, in the final year with Lennard-Jones, I... indirectly, I learnt some theory as well. So I would say it was a very rounded experience which was an enormously fine basis to build a productive career on.

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 Cambridge, University of Melbourne, John Lennard-Jones

Duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011