The Chemical Histories of Soot and Buckminsterfullerene
Scientists often argue among themselves about the best description of nature. Science journalists, primarily reporters of scientists’ work, and facilitators of their arguments, sometimes go beyond reportage and actually join such arguments, or even initiate them. This book presents the story of such a case.
In 1985, the first reports of the discovery of the spherical molecule C60 Buckminsterfullerene, a new third form of carbon beyond diamond and graphite appeared and excited the world, especially the science media. At about the same time, but with much less fanfare, a new description of the formation of the small carbon particles called soot emerged.
As this book shows, Nobel laureates-to-be Rick Smalley, Harry Kroto, and Bob Curl sought acknowledgement as discoverers of C60 using the media skillfully. Rudy Baum, a correspondent and eventual editor for premier chemistry newsmagazine Chemical and Engineering News, helped promote and establish the validity of their claim not only by reporting it, but by linking it with the soot science world, evidently contriving an argument between physical chemists and combustion scientists. The soot formation modeler Michael Frenklach tried in vain to quash the notion of such an argument and Chemical and Engineering News never retracted Baum’s spectacular story of conflict.
Robert Holloway has taught college chemistry in California, Texas, and Pennsylvania. He began while employed full-time as a Member of the Technical Staff at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, California, but moved to teaching at Schreiner University, USA, where he was Atkission Professor of Sciences and Mathematics, before continuing teaching at St. Joseph’s University, USA. He currently teaches at Merritt College in Oakland, California.
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