20 October, 2011

Nobel Prize winners' wrong quotes

In the 1920s, people didn't believe macromolecules like polymers existed. Hermann Staudinger faced much opposition to his claims that molecules with high molecular weights existed. In fact, Heinrich Wieland, 1927 Nobel laureate in chemistry, wrote to Staudinger,
Dear colleague, drop the idea of large molecules; organic molecules with a molecular weight higher than 5000 do not exist. Purify your products, such as rubber, then they will crystallize and prove to be low molecular compounds!
Of course, now we know Staudinger was right, and he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1953 for this. It's just interesting to see how Nobel Prize winners can be wrong.

Another example is Dan Shechtman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for "the discovery of quasicrystals". Linus Pauling, winner of 2 Nobel Prizes, rejected the possibility of their existence.

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