Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Conversations with Henry: I'm Your Hapten

[This post is a continuation-in-part of the previous post]

Henry: What Wilkinson first gave the world now goes by a name. It's called hapticity.

Me: I know what hapticity is, but I didn't realize the word was Cotton's idea.

Henry: Yep.  Cotton was Geoff Wilkinson's first student.

Me: Did you know him?

Henry: Of course! Both of them.


Henry:  I suppose the notion was there all along, sort of half-baked.

Me: What was?

Henry: Hapticity-the notion that a metal could latch onto several carbons simultaneously.  I mean, there was Zeise's salt, known since the 1820's, yet nobody knew its structure. That sure changed quickly.  Then along came Dewar and Chatt, your heroes, to explain it all! [Henry laughs]

Me:  They're not my heroes! Well maybe Dewar was.

Henry: And then there was Reihlen's iron butadiene complex. That was like an open-faced sandwich! [Henry laughs again]. Geoff knew all his work too--even though the war hid some of it. It still does.

Me: You make it all sound so obvious!

Henry:  No, Geoff just proved Pasteur's old dictum that chance favors the prepared mind.

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