Report on the Fourth Mitsui Chemicals International Symposium on Catalysis Science (MICS2009)

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Plenary Lecture

Prof. Roald Hoffmann (Cornell University,U.S.A.)

Chemistry's Essential Tensions: Different Ways of Looking at a Science
Roald Hoffmann

Prof. Roald Hoffmann, a theoretical chemist, has taught his colleagues how to think about electrons influencing molecular structure and reactivity. He has developed approximate methods for calculating electronic structure, and introduced new ways of thinking about electrons in molecules that have led to a better understanding of stereoselectivity in organic chemical reactions (The Woodward-Hoffmann rules). He was awarded the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with Dr. Ken-ichi Fukui “for their theories, developed independently, concerning the course of chemical reactions”. He is not only a chemist but also a writer, of poems, plays and nonfiction, often related to science, but reaching a general audience.

In his quest to reach a general audience even further, he kindly lectured at the Mitsui Chemicals Symposium on Catalysis Science (MICS2009) and mentioned that current chemistry does not hold the attention of society as alchemy had once done and he reminded us that it was important to keep chemistry in the public eye by linking chemistry to ordinary life. He also explained that the beauty of molecules resides not only in the tension that exists between the two opposing states such as simplicity and complexity within molecular architectures but that it also exists in the tension existent within the mind of the observer thinking about the two opposing states.

Before closing his lecture he gave an encouraging message to the audience saying that a masterpiece is created through hard work and such an achievement is available to us all.

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