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OSTIblog Posts by Brian O'Donnell

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Program Analyst/Communications Specialist, U.S. DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Paul D. Boyer, Nobel Laureate Biochemist

Published on Sep 21, 2017

Paul Boyer

Paul Boyer
Courtesy UCLA

To celebrate 70 years of advancing scientific knowledge, OSTI is featuring some of the leading scientists and works particularly relevant to the formation of DOE, OSTI, and their predecessor organizations and is highlighting Nobel laureates and other important research figures in DOE’s history.  Their accomplishments were key to the evolution of the Department of Energy, and OSTI’s collections include many of their publications.

Paul Boyer shared one half of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with John E. Walker “for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)”.  ATP functions as a carrier of energy in all living organisms from bacteria and fungi to plants and animals, including humans.  ATP captures the chemical energy released by the combustion of nutrients and transfers it to reactions that require energy such as the building up of cell components, muscle contraction, transmission of nerve messages, and the functioning of the brain as one reads and processes information.  ATP has been termed the cell’s energy currency and is used as the primary energy source for metabolic functions. 

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Robert F. Curl, Jr. and Richard E. Smalley, Collaborators in the Discovery of Fullerenes

Published on Aug 18, 2017

 

To celebrate 70 years of advancing scientific knowledge, OSTI is featuring some of the leading scientists and works particularly relevant to the formation of DOE, OSTI, and their predecessor organizations and is highlighting Nobel laureates and other important research figures in DOE’s history.  Their accomplishments were key to the evolution of the Department of Energy, and OSTI’s collections include many of their publications.

The 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Robert F. Curl Jr., Richard E. Smalley, and Sir Harold W. Kroto for discovery of new forms of the element carbon – called fullerenes – in which the atoms are arranged in closed shells.  Fullerenes are formed when vaporized carbon condenses in an atmosphere of inert gas.  The gaseous carbon is obtained by directing an intense pulse of laser light at a carbon surface.  The released carbon atoms are mixed with a stream of helium gas and combine to form clusters of a few to hundreds of atoms.  The gas is then led into a vacuum chamber where it expands and is cooled to some degrees above absolute zero.  The carbon clusters can then be analyzed with mass spectrometry.

Robert Curl, Jr. and Richard Smalley

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John Pople, A Theoretical Chemist

Published on Jul 14, 2017

John Pople, Photo courtesy of Northwestern University

To celebrate 70 years of advancing scientific knowledge, OSTI is featuring some of the leading scientists and works particularly relevant to the formation of DOE, OSTI, and their predecessor organizations and is highlighting Nobel laureates and other important research figures in DOE’s history.  Their accomplishments were key to the evolution of the Department of Energy, and OSTI’s collections include many of their publications.

John Pople was born on October 31, 1925, at Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, England.  Although none of his family had attended university, Pople was able to attend Bristol Grammar School, where at the age of 12 he taught himself secondary level of calculus.  When the school learned of his brilliance, and with the support of his parents, he began intensive studies preparing for a mathematics scholarship to Cambridge.  After arriving at Trinity College in 1943, he completed his degree in two years, worked for an airplane company from 1945 to 1947, and returned to Cambridge and earned his doctoral degree in 1951.  He subsequently was a research fellow at Trinity College and then a lecturer in mathematics at Cambridge from 1954 to 1958.

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Edward Teller, A Theoretical Physicist

Published on Jun 14, 2017

Edward Teller

To celebrate 70 years of advancing scientific knowledge, OSTI is featuring some of the leading scientists and works particularly relevant to the formation of DOE, OSTI, and their predecessor organizations and is highlighting Nobel laureates and other important research figures in DOE’s history.  Their accomplishments were key to the evolution of the Department of Energy, and OSTI’s collections include many of their publications.

Born in 1908 in Budapest, Hungary, Edward Teller moved to Germany in 1926, earned an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at University of Karlsruhe, and in 1930 was awarded a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Leipzig.  His doctoral dissertation dealt with one of the first accurate quantum mechanical treatments of the hydrogen molecular ion.  He moved to the United States in 1935 and was a physics professor at George Washington University (GWU) until 1941, the same year he became a U.S. citizen. 

Teller’s career can be divided roughly into two overlapping phases.  The first, from 1928 to about 1952, was largely devoted to scientific research and university life.  In the second phase, which coincided with the discovery of fission in 1939, he focused on applying physics to defense and, later, on cofounding the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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