Hermann Staudinger (1955) - Micro- and Macromolecular Chemistry (German Presentation)

Hermann Staudinger (1955)

Micro- and Macromolecular Chemistry (German Presentation)

Hermann Staudinger (1955)

Micro- and Macromolecular Chemistry (German Presentation)

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Hermann Staudinger participated in his first Lindau meeting two years after having received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. From the youthful enthusiasm with which he speaks about his research subject, macromolecular chemistry, it is difficult to believe that he is 74 years old. But he had good reasons to be enthusiastic, since the basic science research field, which he had taken an interest in almost 50 years earlier and which in more general terms could be called “polymer science”, had become a really hot topic. This was mainly as a result of the newly discovered possibilities of industrial applications, which was leading to a variety of synthetic products that were finding their ways into the daily life in many sectors of society. Among these newly developed products were different kinds of plastics, a development that eventually also led to a second “polymer” Nobel Prize in Chemistry, this time to Karl Ziegler and Giulio Natta in 1963. Again, in 1974, Paul Flory received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his fundamental work on macromolecules, which he had started at the DuPont Company in the 1930’s with the inventor of nylon, Wallace Carothers. Of the four Nobel Laureates in polymer science, Staudinger, Ziegler and Flory each gave only one lecture in Lindau (1955, 1964 and 1977, respectively). At the time Hermann Staudinger delivered his lecture, he had a very special former student in the audience. This was Leopold Ruzicka, who had studied and worked with Staudinger almost 50 years earlier and who received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry already 1939. Ruzicka gave no lecture in Lindau in 1955, but his signature appears on the so-called Lindau Manifesto, a document that was produced during the meeting and which speaks out against nuclear weapons and war. Looking through the long list of Nobel Laureates, one actually also finds another student of Staudinger who became a Nobel Laureate. This is Tadeus Reichstein, who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1950, together with Edward Kendall and Philip Hench. Finally, for those of you who would like to feel the flavour of the Nobel Ceremony of 1953, a documentary film can be found on http://Nobelprize.org. There you can watch Hermann Staudinger receive his Nobel Prize “from the hands of His Majesty the King”.

Anders Bárány

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