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I think this is what drove Bishop Berkeley to notions of the real; he, like me, in the bathroom, the only full length mirror there, asking, in a time-honored way: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest By the point that is you. In you I am two. In a pair of mirrors joined at a right angle three likenesses of you stare. And in the corner where the mirrors abut stands a lone man who has it all right as far as sides go, except for that unbecoming crack down the middle where he seems to be missing something.
If you were to move, no matter how you move, the two seamless men respond, quicker than you can follow. But the image in the corner stays put there, like you. Essential amino acids, dextrously synthesized, are a mix of mirror image forms. On the more inorganic side, we have systematically explored the geometries, polytopal rearrangement and substitution site preferences of five, six, seven and eight coordination, the factors that influence whether certain ligands will bridge or not, the constraints of metal-metal bonding, and the geometry of uranyl and other actinide complexes.
I and my coworkers are beginning work on extended solid state structures and the design of novel conducting systems. The technical description above does not communicate what I think is my major contribution. I am a teacher, and I am proud of it. At Cornell University I have taught primarily undergraduates, and indeed almost every year since have taught first-year general chemistry. I have also taught chemistry courses to non-scientists and graduate courses in bonding theory and quantum mechanics.
To the chemistry community at large, to my fellow scientists, I have tried to teach "applied theoretical chemistry": From Les Prix Nobel. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate. In the last decade I and my coworkers have begun to look at the electronic structure of extended systems in one-, two-, and three dimensions.
Frontier orbital arguments find an analogue in this work, in densities of states and their partitioning. We have introduced an especially useful tool, the COOP curve. This is the solid state analogue of an overlap population, showing the way the bond strength depends on electron count. My group has studied molecules as diverse as the platinocyanides, Chevrel phases, transition metal carbides, displacive transitions in NiAs, MnP and NiP, new metallic forms of carbon, the making and breaking of bonds in the solid state and many other systems.
One focus of the solid state work has been on surfaces, especially on the interaction of CH 4 , acetylene and CO with specific metal faces.
The group has been able to carry through unique comparisons of inorganic and surface reactions. And in a book "Solids and Surfaces. And, a much harder task, to convince physicists that there is value in chemical ways of thinking. In I participated in the production of a television course in introductory chemistry.
I am the Presenter for the series which began to be aired on PBS in , and will also be seen in many other countries. Through the years I maintained an interest in literature, particularly German and Russian literature. I began to write poetry in the mid-seventies, but it was only in that a poem was first published. I own much to a poetry group at Cornell that includes A.
My poems have appeared in many magazines and have been translated into French, Portuguese, Russian and Swedish. My first collection, "The Metamict State", was published by the University of Central Florida Press in , and is now in a second printing. It seems obvious to me to use words as best as I can in teaching myself and my coworkers. Some call that research. Some call that teaching. The words are important in science, as much as we might deny it, as much as we might claim that they just represent some underlying material reality.
It seems equally obvious to me that I should marshal words to try to write poetry. I write poetry to penetrate the world around me, and to comprehend my reactions to it. Some of the poems are about science, some not. Yet there are several reasons to welcome more poetry that deals with science. Around the time of the Industrial Revolution - perhaps in reaction to it, perhaps for other reasons - science and its language left poetry. Nature and the personal became the main playground of the poet. If one can write poetry about being a lumberjack, why not about being a scientist?
The language of science is a language under stress. Words are being made to describe things that seem indescribable in words - equations, chemical structures and so forth. Words do not, cannot mean all that they stand for, yet they are all we have to describe experience. By being a natural language under tension, the language of science is inherently poetic. There is metaphor aplenty in science. Emotions emerge shaped as states of matter and more interestingly, matter acts out what goes on in the soul.
One thing is certainly not true: Interestingly, I find that many humanists deep down feel that scientists have such inner knowledge that is barred to them. Perhaps we scientists do, but in such carefully circumscribed pieces of the universe! Roald Hoffmann Chemistry Having survived the war, he came to the U.
Since he is at Cornell University, now as the Frank H. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters. He has received many of the honors of his profession, including the Nobel Prize in Chemistry shared with Kenichi Fukui.
Hoffmann is also a writer of essays, non-fiction, poems and plays. In , Columbia University Press published The Same and Not the Same, a thoughtful account of the dualities that lie under the surface of chemistry.