Nobel Laureate Brings Special Chemistry to Campus
The year 2011 was designated the International Year of Chemistry by the United Nations, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the awarding of Marie Curie’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery and study of radium and polonium. So what better way to celebrate both of those events than by hosting a Nobel Prize–winning applied theoretical chemist? We couldn’t think of any, and thus Baruch College presented the Marie Curie Nobel Centennial Symposium: An Intersection of Science, Art, and Thought, in November.
Keynoting the half-day event was Nobel laureate, Cornell University professor, and poet and playwright Roald Hoffmann, who presented “Chemistry’s Essential Tensions: Three Views of a Science,” a student-friendly talk that examined how the outside world views chemistry and how that relates to the actual practice itself. “Chemistry is fundamentally about change. It is science with a philosophy, science with a purpose,” said Hoffmann, who also addressed chemistry’s psychological dimension and its ties to the arts.
The symposium was rounded out by an hourlong natural sciences poster session, highlighting the achievements of students from Baruch and local colleges and universities, and a theatrical production of Hoffmann’s and Carl Djerassi’s play, Oxygen, in BPAC’s Engelman Recital Hall.
Noting that “Roald Hoffmann and Marie Curie are wonderful examples of individuals who draw from many disciplines and transcend academic boundaries,” Natural Sciences Assistant Professor David Gruber (who co-organized the symposium along with Assistant Professor of Computational Chemistry Edyta Greer) summed up: “The event was intended to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of science and the connection between creative thinking and the scientific discovery process. Science is adventurous and fun—and not about just memorizing equations or compounds!”
Among the Baruch College symposium sponsors were the Mildred and George Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, the Jewish Studies Center, and the Office of the Provost.