Nobel Prize Award for Chemistry 1936 to 1945

About the Nobel Prize Award for Chemistry from 1936 to 1945 including the scientists Debye and Butenandt, their works, and history.


1936 Peter J. W. Debye (1884-1966), Dutch

Work: Studies of molecular structure, dipole moments, and the diffraction of electrons and X rays in gases

Nobel Laureate: Born Petrus Debiji in Maastricht, Holland, Debye followed Albert Einstein in the theoretical physics chair at the University of Zurich in 1911. After a year he moved on to a variety of posts in several European countries, finally rising to the directorship of the renowned Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin in 1935. As he surveyed his fine laboratory, bristling with all the latest equipment including cryogenics apparatus, Debye could not have been more content. But at this same time, Germany's new chancellor was beginning to tighten his grip on German society, especially the scientific community. Adolf Hitler would not allow the nation's most prestigious scientific institution to continue under the guidance of a foreigner. He therefore put it to Debye in blunt terms: either become a German citizen or get out. Debye got out; in fact, he quit the country altogether and eventually settled in the U.S., where he helped the Allies boost the production of synthetic rubber. The year he left Germany, his statue went up in the city hall of his Dutch birthplace. In 1940 Debye joined the faculty of Cornell, where he remained until his retirement in 1950. For his prizewinning work and countless other projects, he earned the nickname "the master of the molecule." After hours, Debye enjoyed fishing, swimming, and puffing cigars. He hated card games.

1937 Walter N. Haworth (1883-1950), British

Work: Research into carbohydrates and vitamin C

Paul Karrer (1889-1971), Swiss (b. Russia)

Work: Analysis of carotenoids, flavins, and vitamins A and B2

1938 Richard Kuhn (1900-1967), Austrian

Work: Research into carotenoids and vitamins Prize declined. (See The People's Almanac 1, p. 1114)

1939 Adolf F. J. Butenandt (1903- ), German

Work: Study of the chemistry of sex hormones; determined the chemical structure of progesterone, a female sex hormone; isolated and named androsterone, a male sex hormone

Prize declined. (See The People's Almanac 1, p. 1114)

Leopold Ruzicka (1887-1976), Swiss (b. Yugoslavia)

Work: Study of higher terpenes

1940 No award

1941 No award

1942 No award

1943 George de Hevesy (1885-1966), Hungarian

Work: Use of isotopes as tracer elements in chemical processes

1944 Otto Hahn (1879-1968), German

Work: Discovery of the fission of heavy atomic nuclei

1945 Artturi I. Virtanen (1895-1973), Finnish

Work: Research and inventions in the chemistry of agriculture and nutrition

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