Celebrating Chemistry in the Year of the Rabbit

Happy Chinese New Year! Or Gong Xi Fa Chai (if, like me, you speak Mandarin), or Gong Hey Fat Choy (if you speak Cantonese).

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People who are born in the Year of the Rabbit are said to be mild and generous, gracious and dignified. They are noted for their compassion and strong sense of sympathy. They are also alert and persevering, making for good work and life companions. According to the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Rabbit arrives every 12 years: 1831, 1843, 1855, 1867, 1879, 1891, 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 199, and, of course, 2011. Chemistry Nobel Laureates who were born in the Year of the Rabbit include: Ada E. Yonath (b. 1939) Yonath shared the 2009 Chemistry Nobel with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz for their studies of the structure and function of the ribosome. Alan G. MacDiarmid (1927–2007) MacDiarmid shared the 2000 prize with Alan Heeger for their discovery and development of conductive polymers. Sir Harold W. Kroto (b. 1939) Kroto shared the 1996 prize with Robert F. Curl Jr. and Richard E. Smalley for their discovery of fullerenes. F. Sherwood Rowland (b. 1927) Roland shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 with Paul J. Crutzen and Mario J. Molina for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone. George A. Olah (b. 1927) Olah won the prize in 1994 for his contribution to carbocation chemistry. Sidney Altman (b. 1939) Altman shared the chemistry prize in 1989 with Thomas R. Cech for their discovery of catalytic properties of RNA. Jean-Marie Lehn (b. 1939) Lehn shared the 1987 prize with Donald J. Cram and Charles J. Pedersen for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity. Henry Taube (1915–2005) Taube won the 1983 prize for his work on the mechanisms of electron-transfer reactions, especially in metal complexes. Lars Onsager (1903–1976) Onsager won the prize in 1968 for the discovery of the reciprocal relations bearing his name, which are fundamental for the thermodynamics of irreversible processes. Manfred Eigen (b. 1927) Eigen shared the 1967 prize with Ronald George Wreyford Norrish and George Porter for their studies of extremely fast chemical reactions, effected by disturbing the equilibrium by means of very short pulses of energy. Giulio Natta (1903–1979) Natta shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963 with Karl Ziegler for their discoveries in the field of the chemistry and technology of high polymers. John H. Northrop (1891–1987) Northrop shared the 1946 prize with James B. Sumner and Wendell M. Stanley for their preparation of enzymes and virus proteins in a pure form. Otto Hahn (1879–1968) Hahn won the 1944 prize for his discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei. Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt (1887–1976) Butenandt shared the 1939 prize with Leopold Ruzicka. Butenandt was cited for his work on sex hormones. Madame Curie (1867–1934) Curie, the first woman chemist to win the prize, was recognized in 1911 for her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element. Do you know any other famous scientists who were born in the Year of the Rabbit? Feel free to add to this list!

Author: Linda Wang

Associate Editor, Chemical & Engineering News

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