Nobel Prize Award for Chemistry 1952 to 1960

About the Nobel Prize Award for Chemistry from 1952 to 1960 including the scientists Heyrovsky and Todd, their works, and history.


1952 Archer J. P. Martin (1910- ), British

Richard L. M. Synge (1914- ), British

Work: Development of partition chromatography, a method of isolating chemical compounds

1953 Hermann Staudinger (1881-1965), German

Work: Discoveries in macromolecular chemistry, the study of supermolecules

1954 Linus Pauling (1901- ), American

Work: Research into molecular structure, especially the atomic bonds which hold everything together

1955 Vincent du Vigneaud (1901- ), American

Work: Research on biochemical sulfur compounds, especially the synthesis of a polypeptide hormone

1956 Cyril N. Hinshelwood (1897-1967), British

Nikolai N. Semenov (1896- ), Russian

Work: Independent research into certain chemical chain reactions

1957 Alexander R. Todd (1907- ), British

Work: Research on nucleotides and nucleotide coenzymes

Nobel Laureate: Born and raised in Glasgow, the son of a justice of the peace, Todd did his undergraduate work at the local university, but took his doctorate at the University of Frankfurt am Main in Germany. He then spent three years under 1947 chemistry laureate Robert Robinson at Oxford. He joined the faculty of the University of Manchester in 1938 and after six years moved on to head up the chemistry labs at Cambridge. During his long and distinguished career, he synthesized vitamins B1, B12, and E. He also experimented with marijuana--scientifically, that is--and discovered that the plant's white, crystalline resin contained certain properties which promised to be of some medicinal value. In 1954 the towering (6 ft. 6 in.) chemist dipped before the queen's sword to become Sir Alexander. Since 1963 he has served as master of Christ's College, Cambridge. He enjoys fishing and golf.

Nobel Lore: Upon hearing of his selection by the Nobel committee. Todd graciously sought to spread the credit around. "It's naturally very nice to get one's work recognized in this way." he conceded. "But it is much more a tribute to a lot of the boys who have worked with me."

1958 Frederick Sanger (1918- ), British

Work: Isolated and identified the amino acid components of the insulin molecule

1959 Jaroslav Heyrovsky (1890-1967), Czech

Work: Discovery and development of polarography, an electrochemical technique for analyzing solutions

Nobel Laureate: Born in Prague, the son of a law professor, Heyrovsky interrupted his education to serve in the Austrian army during W.W. I. After the armistice, he returned to Prague's Charles University to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. He hit on his polarographic discoveries as early as the 1920s while experimenting in electrolysis. He was able to demonstrate the composition of a solution on a machine of his invention known as the polarograph. Because this technique proved capable of analyzing minute quantities of matter quickly and in such a way that the substance under investigation remains unaltered physically and is therefore reusable, it has been a boon to the industrial chemist, particularly the metallurgist. In 1950 the Czech government custom-built for him the Polarographic Institute and installed him as director. Friends of Heyrovsky say that his devotion to communism was negligible, but that he struck a practical compromise with the Prague government in order to continue his work without harassment. The diminutive (5 ft. 4 in., 110 lb.) chemist relaxed at the opera, on the tennis court, on the ski slopes, and in the pool. He also played the piano.

Nobel Lore: Asked to comment on his selection, Heyrovsky puffed with national pride. "I am very happy at this distinguished honor, since this is the first time in the history of the Nobel Prize that a citizen of the Czechoslovak Republic has received it."

1960 Willard F. Libby (1908- ), American

Work: Development of the "atomic time clock," a method of radiocarbon dating

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