a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Cradling nitroglycerine


'Don't be a bloody fool, put in for Honours!'
Norman Greenwood Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

So, Abe Yoffe. It so happened in the practical classes that Abe Yoffe was the member of staff who was supervising the lab class that I took. And at the end of the year each student had to fill in a form for the exams that he was going to enter. I was filling out a form, a pink form as I recall, and Abe came up in the lab and said, 'You're filling out the wrong form, Norm'. So I said, 'No, this was the Pass form'. He said, 'No, you should be filling out a blue form for Honours'. I said, 'You're having me on, Abe, I am nowhere near Honours standard, I've missed my last year of school, I'm working full-time, I'm only doing this course as a part-time student'. And he just looked at me and he said, 'Norm, I demonstrate in this class, I know all the students, let me tell you you're one of the best. Don't be a bloody fool, put in for Honours'. So I did, with some trepidation, but out of a class of 200 – because a first year chemistry class was big – out of a class of 200 I came second. So I thought right, if I work hard I might do better. So that, I think, was an enormous advantage.

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 Melbourne, Abe Yoffe

Duration: 1 minute, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011