PAUL FLORY WINS NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY

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  • The Chemical World This Week

    PAUL FLORY WINS NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY When the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature were awarded earlier this month, they were widely criticized. How-ever, no one is likely to question the credentials of Dr. Paul J. Flory of Stanford University, selected last week as Nobel Laureate in Chemis-try.

    Dr. Flory's eminence among his peers and his theoretical and exper-imental achievements over more than 40 yearsmost recently recog-nized by the 1974 Priestley Medal, the American Chemical Society's highest honormake him "recog-nized as the man in polymer chem-istry/ ' notes Dr. Frank E. Karasz of the University of Massachusetts.

    Dr. Richard S. Stein, director of the Polymer Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, adds that Dr. Flory "has estab-lished the foundations for the mod-ern physical chemistry of polymers. His influence has been particularly great in solution theory, statistics of polymer molecules, and the theo-ry of phase transitions of poly-mers." The concepts of Flory tem-perature and Flory's universal vis-cosity constant are two of his many fundamental contributions.

    In an interview with C&EN after the Nobel award was announced, Dr. Flory pointed out that the cur-rent research of his group focuses on configurational statistics of polymer chains, including poly-methyl methacrylate, polystyrene, polymethyl acrylate, polypropylene,

    6 C&EN Oct. 21, 1974

    and polyisobutylene. His group is studying the polymer dimensions and the dimension temperature coefficients, and examining poly-styrene's optical anisotropy as mea-sured by depolarized light scatter-ing and strain birefringence.

    The new Nobel Laureate will be 65 years old next June 19 and is scheduled for retirement at Stan-ford. However, he plans no slacken-ing of activities. He will be a visit-ing professor at Massachusetts In-stitute of Technology in the 1975 fall semester and at the Swiss Fed-eral Institute of Technology in spring of 1976.

    Although approaching "retire-ment," Dr. Flory is still in the thick of controversy. He believes that there is predominantly irregular chain folding in polymer crystals, contrary to what some scientists say. Another issue involves whether there are ordered structures in

    Conservation is key to When the Ford Foundation two years ago set up its Energy Policy Project, the U.S. energy situation, though of mushrooming concern to professionals and specialists, barely had begun to penetrate the public consciousness. Last week, when the project issued its final report, the general public had become only too aware of the situation.

    That public as well as the Gov-ernment is the target of the report and of the message in its title, "A Time to Choose." A one-sentence conclusion of the 500-page report: By cutting the growth rate in ener-gy consumption, the U.S. can bal-ance its energy budget, safeguard the environment, and protect the independence of its foreign policy.

    The report sets forth three sce-narios to the year 2000, which it la-bels historical growth, technical fix, and zero energy growth. On the basis of these it concludes that the nation should trim energy growth from the 4.5% of the past eight years to about 2% a year, and that it can do so without affecting ad-versely the economy or its way of life. Neither jobs, nor growth rate in incomes, nor household comforts will suffer if the nation's energy growth rate is slowed by more effi-cient use of energy, it says. A dec-ade from now, with further efficien-

    Flory: the man in polymer chemistry

    polymer chains in the bulk amor-phous state. Strong evidence was presented at two recent symposiums backing Dr. Flory's viewthat there are only random configura-tions, essentially identical to those in an ideal solution.

    I.S. energy woes cies and with shifts in the pattern of economic growth to less energy-intensive activities, energy growth can level off to zero.

    To achieve these savings, the re-port says, the U.S. must adopt a consistent, integrated energy con-servation policy. In fact, it empha-sizes, whatever energy course is chosen, a sense of direction is es-sential.

    The Energy Policy Project set up shop in Washington, D.C., in 1972, with S. David Freeman as head. Mr. Freeman, who had been a spe-cialist in energy policy in the since abolished (early in 1973) White House Office of Science and Tech-nology, headed a multidisciplinary staff, ultimately 12 persons who au-thored the report. In addition, the project has been advised through-out by a 20-person advisory board with members from universities, business, and citizen groups.

    During its two years of existence, the project commissioned from ex-perts across the U.S. more than 25 studies. The studies are being pub-lished in a 20-volume series of books.

    The final report, however, was written solely by the project staff. Advisory board members, selected to reflect a broad range of individu-al outlooks, don't always agree with

    Other Nobel Prizes Also awarded last week was the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics to Sir Martin Ryle, 56, and Dr. Antony Hewish, 50, of the University of Cambridge, U.K., for "pioneering research in radioastrophysicsRyle for his observations and inventions, in particular of the aperture-synthe-sis technique, and Hewish for his decisive role in the discovery of pulsars." In addition, "discoveries concerning the structural and func-tional organization of the cel l " have earned the 1974 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for Dr. Albert Claude, 75, director of Institut Jules Bordet in Brussels; Dr. George E. Palade, 61, of Yale University; and Dr. Christian R. de Duve, 57, of Rockefeller University and Universi-ty of Louvain, Brussels.

    The Chemical World This WeekPAUL FLORY WINS NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY