Vladimir Prelog (1983) - A Look Back at 118 Semesters of Studying Chemistry (German Presentation)

Vladimir Prelog (1983)

A Look Back at 118 Semesters of Studying Chemistry (German Presentation)

Vladimir Prelog (1983)

A Look Back at 118 Semesters of Studying Chemistry (German Presentation)

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The way he delivers his first lecture in Lindau, the organic chemist Vladimir Prelog can be seen to personify the dramatic sweeping away of the Austrian monarchy and the establishment of a new European map after WWI. No wonder then that he chooses to catch the interest of the younger part of the audience for the historic development in organic chemistry in the 20th century by describing to them his own personal life story. From Sarajevo (Bosnia) to Zagreb (Croatia), then to Prague (Czechoslovakia), back to Zagreb and finally to Zürich (Switzerland). Since Prelog believes that performing research really means that you are a student, the 118 semesters of the title refer to his life from 1924, when he enters the Czech Institute of Technology up to 1983, when he delivers his lecture at the Lindau meeting. In a book published later, the same year that he passed away at age 92, he actually updates the story to 132 semesters! During his life he met with many inspiring personalities and, as so many other Nobel Laureates, he bears witness to the importance of good teachers, both in school and in Academia. He also considers himself lucky to come to Zagreb as a newly created PhD to be given the task to build up the research activities in organic chemistry with a set of young co-workers. In the next movement, to ETH in Zürich, he mentions in particular three Nobel Laureates in Chemistry who worked there at different times: Leopold Ruzicka (NP 1939), Hermann Staudinger (NP 1953) and Richard Kuhn (NP 1938). It was Ruzicka who had the good idea to invite Prelog to come to ETH in 1941 and from the lecture it seems clear that he never regretted this invitation!

Anders Bárány

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