Society: Arts and Science – August 16


The Nobel Prize is bestowed annually in categories as selected by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Irving Langmuir was born on this date in 1881. He was an American chemist and physicist. His most noted publication was the famous 1919 article “The Arrangement of Electrons in Atoms and Molecules” in which, building on Gilbert N. Lewis’s cubical atom theory and Walther Kossel’s chemical bonding theory, he outlined his “concentric theory of atomic structure”. Langmuir became embroiled in a priority dispute with Lewis over this work; Langmuir’s presentation skills were largely responsible for the popularization of the theory, although the credit for the theory itself belongs mostly to Lewis. He worked at General Electric from 1909–1950 and advanced several basic fields of physics and chemistry, invented the gas-filled incandescent lamp, the hydrogen welding technique, and was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in surface chemistry. The Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research near Socorro, New Mexico, was named in his honor as was the American Chemical Society journal for Surface Science, called Langmuir.
Wendell Meredith Stanley was born on this date in 1904. He was an American biochemist, virologist and 1946 Nobel laureate in Chemistry. As a member of National Research Council he moved temporarily for academic work with Heinrich Wieland in Munich before he returned to the States in 1931. On return he was approved as an assistant at the Rockefeller Institute, the post he held until 1948. He later became Professor of Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. Stanley’s work contributed to on lepracidal compounds, diphenyl stereochemistry and the chemistry of the sterols. His researches on the virus causing the mosaic disease in tobacco plants led to the isolation of a nucleoprotein which displayed tobacco mosaic virus activity. Stanley was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 1946. His other notable awards included the Rosenburger Medal, Alder Prize, Scott Award, and the AMA Scientific Achievement Award. He was also awarded honorary degrees by many universities both American and foreign, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the University of Paris. Most of the conclusions Stanley had presented in his Nobel-winning research were soon shown to be incorrect (in particular, that the crystals of mosaic virus he had isolated were pure protein, and assembled by autocatalysis).
Selman Abraham Waksman died on this date in 1973. He was an Ukrainian-born, Jewish-American inventor, biochemist and microbiologist whose research into organic substances—largely into organisms that live in soil—and their decomposition promoted the discovery of Streptomycin, and several other antibiotics. A professor of biochemistry and microbiology at Rutgers University for four decades, he discovered over twenty antibiotics (a word which he coined) and introduced procedures that have led to the development of many others. The proceeds earned from the licensing of his patents funded a foundation for microbiological research, which established the Waksman Institute of Microbiology located on Rutgers University’s Busch Campus in Piscataway, New Jersey (USA). In 1952 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition “for his discovery of “streptomycin,” the first antibiotic active against tuberculosis.” Waksman was later accused of fraud by Albert Schatz, a PhD student who did the work under Waksman’s supervision to discover streptomycin. In 2005 Selman Waksman was designated an ACS National Historical Chemical Landmark in recognition of the significant work of his lab in isolating more than fifteen antibiotics, including streptomycin, which was the first effective treatment for tuberculosis.
Axel Hugo Theodor Theorell ForMemRS died on this date in 1982. He was a Swedish scientist and Nobel Prize laureate in medicine.He was born in Linköping as the son of Thure Theorell and his wife Armida Bill. Theorell went to Secondary School at Katedralskolan in Linköping and passed his examination there on 23 May 1921. In September, he began to study medicine at the Karolinska Institute and in 1924 he graduated as a Bachelor of Medicine. He then spent three months studying bacteriology at the Pasteur Institute in Paris under Professor Albert Calmette. In 1930 he obtained his M.D. degree with a theory on the lipids of the blood plasma, and was appointed professor in physiological chemistry at the Karolinska Institute. Theorell, who dedicated his entire career to enzyme research, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1955 for discovering the oxidation enzyme and its effects. His contribution also consisted of the theory of the toxic effects of sodium fluoride on the cofactors of crucial human enzymes. He was a former head of research of the Nobel Institute, the first researcher related to the Institute to be awarded a Nobel Prize. His work had led to pioneering progress on ADH enzymes, which break down alcohol in the kidney. His work won praise in Sweden as well as around the world. He received honorary degrees at universities in France, Belgium, Brazil and the United States. Theorell died in Stockholm and is buried in Norra begravningsplatsen (The Northern Cemetery) alongside his wife, Elin Margit Elisabeth (née Alenius) Theorell, a distinguished pianist and harpsichordist.


Society: Arts and Science – July 22


The Nobel Prize is bestowed annually in categories as selected by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Sir William Randal Cremer died on this day in 1908. Usually known by his middle name “Randal”, he was an English Liberal Member of Parliament, a pacifist, and a leading advocate for international arbitration. In recognition of his work in the arbitration movement, Cremer won the Nobel Peace Prize, the first to do so solo, in 1903.
Gustav Ludwig Hertz was born on this date in 1887. He was a German experimental physicist and Nobel Prize winner, and a nephew of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz. Hertz was born in Hamburg, the son of Auguste (née Arning) and a lawyer, Gustav Theodor Hertz (1858–1904), Heinrich Rudolf Hertz’ brother. He studied at the Georg-August University of Göttingen (1906–1907), the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich (1907–1908), and the Humboldt University of Berlin (1908–1911). He received his doctorate in 1911 under Heinrich Leopold Rubens. From 1911 to 1914, Hertz was an assistant to Rubens at the University of Berlin. It was during this time that Hertz and James Franck performed experiments on inelastic electron collisions in gases, known as the Franck–Hertz experiments, and for which they received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1925. During World War I, Hertz served in the military from 1914. He was seriously wounded in 1915. In 1917, he returned to the University of Berlin as a Privatdozent. In 1920, he took a job as a research physicist at the Philips Incandescent Lamp Factory in Eindhoven, which he held until 1925.
Selman Abraham Waksman was born on this date in 1888. He was an Ukrainian-born, Jewish-American inventor, biochemist and microbiologist whose research into organic substances—largely into organisms that live in soil—and their decomposition promoted the discovery of Streptomycin, and several other antibiotics. A professor of biochemistry and microbiology at Rutgers University for four decades, he discovered over twenty antibiotics (a word which he coined) and introduced procedures that have led to the development of many others. The proceeds earned from the licensing of his patents funded a foundation for microbiological research, which established the Waksman Institute of Microbiology located on Rutgers University’s Busch Campus in Piscataway, New Jersey (USA). In 1952 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition “for his discovery of “streptomycin,” the first antibiotic active against tuberculosis.” Waksman was later accused of fraud by Albert Schatz, a PhD student who did the work under Waksman’s supervision to discover streptomycin. In 2005 Selman Waksman was designated an ACS National Historical Chemical Landmark in recognition of the significant work of his lab in isolating more than fifteen antibiotics, including streptomycin, which was the first effective treatment for tuberculosis.