Monday, November 26, 2012

40 years of collaborative quantum chemistry

There is a very nice article in the Journal of Organic Chemistry
With a Little Help from My Friends: Forty Years of Fruitful Chemical Collaborations
by Weston Thatcher Borden

Borden's career is unusual in that he has done both organic synthesis [i.e., actually making molecules] and computational quantum chemistry.

The article is worth reading for several reasons. It describes some
-interesting organic chemistry and shows how quantum chemistry has illuminated it
-characteristics of fruitful collaborations, both between theorists and between theorists and experimentalists
-interesting history and personal vignettes and perspectives

On the latter I found the following throwaway line rather disturbing and disappointing:
When I was an Assistant Professor at Harvard, unlike most of my colleagues in the Chemistry Department, Bill Doering seemed genuinely interested in talking about chemistry with me.
Unfortunately, this happens too often. I would be curious to know why Borden thinks this was. Sometimes it is because people are too "busy" and/or preoccupied with their own little world. The worst reason can be senior scientists actually lose interest in science and get consumed with funding, politics, ...alternatives to struggling to do significant research.

Some of the insights in the article justify a blog post in their own right and so I hope I will post separately about writing up quantum chemistry calculations, tunneling by carbon in organic reactions, symmetry breaking in TMM, and "different electronic states of the same molecule can have different MOs [Molecular Orbitals],..."

A paper of Borden's featured in an earlier post Seeing how degenerate radicals can be

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