World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Roald Hoffman

Roald Hoffmann
Roald Hoffmann
Born Roald Safran
(1937-07-18) July 18, 1937 (age 76)
Zolochiv, Poland (now Ukraine)
Citizenship United States
Nationality American
Fields Chemistry
Institutions Cornell University
Alma mater Stuyvesant High School
Columbia University
Harvard University
Doctoral advisor William N. Lipscomb, Jr.
Known for reaction mechanisms
Notable awards 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Spouse Eva Börjesson (m. 1960; 2 children)

Roald Hoffmann (born Roald Safran; July 18, 1937)[1] is an American theoretical chemist who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Emeritus, at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York.[2]

Early life

Escape from the Holocaust

Hoffmann was born in Zolochiv, Poland (now Ukraine), to a Jewish family, and was named in honor of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. His parents were Clara (Rosen), a teacher, and Hillel Safran, a civil engineer.[3] After Germany invaded Poland and occupied the town, his family was placed in a labor camp where his father, who was familiar with much of the local infrastructure, was a valued prisoner. As the situation grew more dangerous, with prisoners being transferred to liquidation camps, the family bribed guards to allow an escape and arranged with Ukrainian neighbors for Hoffman, his mother, two uncles and an aunt to hide in the attic and a storeroom of the local schoolhouse, where they remained for fifteen months, while Hoffman was aged 5 to 7.

His father remained at the labor camp, but was able to occasionally visit, until he was tortured and killed by the Germans for his involvement in a plot to arm the camp prisoners. When she received the news, his mother attempted to contain her sorrow by writing down her feelings in a notebook her husband had been using to take notes on a relativity textbook he had been reading. While in hiding his mother kept Hoffman entertained by teaching him to read and having him memorize geography from textbooks stored in the attic, then quizzing him on it. He referred to the experience as having been enveloped in a cocoon of love.[4]

Most of the rest of the family perished in the Holocaust, though one grandmother and a few others survived.[5] They migrated to the United States in 1949.

Hoffman visited Zolochiv with his adult son (by then a parent of a five-year-old) in 2006 and found that the attic where he had hidden was still intact, but the storeroom had been incorporated, ironically enough, into a chemistry classroom. In 2009, a monument to Holocaust victims was built in Zolochiv on Hoffmann's initiative.[6]

Academic credentials

Hoffmann graduated in 1955 from New York City's Stuyvesant High School,[7] where he won a Westinghouse science scholarship. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia University (Columbia College) in 1958. He earned his Master of Arts degree in 1960 from Harvard University. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Harvard University while working[8][9][10][11][12] under direction of subsequent 1976 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner William N. Lipscomb, Jr. Under Lipscomb's direction the Extended Huckel method was developed by Lawrence Lohr and by Roald Hoffmann.[9][13] This method was later extended by Hoffmann.[14] He went to Cornell in 1965 and has remained there, becoming professor emeritus.

Chemistry interests

Hoffmann has investigated both organic and inorganic substances, developing computational tools and methods such as the extended Hückel method, which he proposed in 1963.

He also developed, with Robert Burns Woodward, rules for elucidating reaction mechanisms (the Woodward-Hoffmann rules). He also introduced the isolobal principle.

“From a chemist’s point of view, the surface or interior of a star…is boring—there are no molecules there.” -- Roald Hoffmann[15]

The World Of Chemistry with Roald Hoffmann

Hoffmann is the co-host of the Annenberg/CPB educational series, The World of Chemistry, with Don Showalter.

Artistic interests

Hoffmann is also a writer of poetry published in two collections, The Metamict State (1987, ISBN 0-8130-0869-7) and Gaps and Verges (1990, ISBN 0-8130-0943-X), and of books explaining chemistry to the general public. Also, he co-authored with Carl Djerassi the play Oxygen, about the discovery of oxygen, but also about what it means to be a scientist and the importance of process of discovery in science.

Hoffmann stars in The World of Chemistry video series with Don Showalter.

Since the spring of 2001, Hoffmann has been the host of the monthly series Entertaining Science at New York City's Cornelia Street Cafe,[16] which explores the juncture between the arts and science.

Hoffmann and Brian Alan produced an English cover of Wei Wei's song "Dedication of Love", part of an international music project raising funds to help the victims of the Sichuan Earthquake.[17]

Awards

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

In 1981, Hoffmann received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he shared with Kenichi Fukui "for their theories, developed independently, concerning the course of chemical reactions".[18][19]

Other awards

Hoffmann is member of the [1].

In August 2007, the American Chemical Society held a symposium at its biannual national meeting to honor Hoffmann's 70th birthday. He also has served as a consultant with Eli Lilly and Company, a global pharmaceutical corporation.

See also

Poetry portal
  • List of Jewish Nobel laureates

References

External links

  • Hoffmann's web site
  • Nobel Prize Biography
  • Photograph of Roald Hoffman
  • Roald Hoffmann profile, NNDB

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.