October 05, 2005

This brings the number of Nobel Laureates I've met personally to 8

Bob Grubbs of Caltech shares the 2005 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Grubbs shares the prize equally with Yves Chauvin of Institut Francais du Petrole and Richard Schrock of the OIT (that's MIT, for the unaware) for the development of metathesis in Organic Chemistry.

From the Nobel website:
The word metathesis means 'change-places'. In metathesis reactions, double bonds are broken and made between carbon atoms in ways that cause atom groups to change places. This happens with the assistance of special catalyst molecules. Metathesis can be compared to a dance in which the couples change partners.

Metathesis is used daily in the chemical industry, mainly in the development of pharmaceuticals and of advanced plastic materials. Thanks to the Laureates' contributions, synthesis methods have been developed that are

* more efficient (fewer reaction steps, fewer resources required, less wastage),
* simpler to use (stable in air, at normal temperatures and pressures) and
* environmentally friendlier (non-injurious solvents, less hazardous waste products).

This represents a great step forward for "green chemistry", reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production. Metathesis is an example of how important basic science has been applied for the benefit of man, society and the environment.

I met Grubbs when I worked in the Chemistry department as a freshman and sophomore. I remember his labs as remarkable because one ALWAYS had to wear safety goggles inside since there had been a number of interesting explosions at odd times, but that's what you get with metal catalysts....

This brings the number of Caltech Nobels to 32 prizes awarded to 31 alumni and/or faculty. Can you name the Caltech Nobel Laureate who won TWO prizes?? Hint: The prizes were for Chemistry and Peace.

Other Nobel Laureates I've met (not that any of them would remember me):
Rudy Marcus
Ed Lewis
Ahmed Zewail
HD Politzer (who was my friend's freshman advisor)
Richard Axel
Linda Buck
Paul Greengard

Posted by caltechgirl at October 5, 2005 12:58 PM | TrackBack

I've met one, and seen one more.

Saw Stephen Hawking while I was at UCSB. He was having lunch outside of the Wendy's.

I met Glenn T Seaborg when I was young. I have a picture of me with him, when I was in middle school. He was from South Gate( his boyhood home is now owned by the city), went to Berkeley and became a big shot physist. An element is named after him (106, Sg, Seaborium).

Posted by: Bill at October 5, 2005 10:03 PM

Stephen Hawking hasn't won the Nobel. Shame. I've spoken with him, he's quite funny despite the timing issues his voice box induces.....

Wow. Glenn Seaborg is a chemistry legend. I thought he was from the bay area.

Posted by: caltechgirl at October 5, 2005 10:46 PM

From a Seaborg Biography

Glenn Theodore Seaborg was born in Ishpeming, Michigan, on April 19, 1912. At the age of 10 he moved with his family to California, in 1929 he graduated at David Starr Jordan High School in Los Angeles as valedictorian of his class.

He entered the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1929, and received the degree of Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1937.

So he was born in the midwest, moved to SoCal (lived in South Gate, most of which is a part of LA USD), and then went to Berkeley. America is a great internal immigration society, among other things.

Posted by: Bill at October 6, 2005 06:29 AM