07 Jan '12, 9pm

Creative power of mistakes. Nobel Laureate chose chemistry not physics so he could make them faster

Creative power of mistakes. Nobel Laureate chose chemistry not physics so he could make them faster

Recently I attended a memorial service for someone who had become, for me, both a friend and an inspiration. Dr. William Lipscomb received the 1976 Nobel Prize in chemistry for “studies that were the first to explain the chemistry of the element boron and, in particular, those exotic combinations of boron and hydrogen called boranes” (Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times). I knew him as Bill — my special laureate in the annual Ig Nobel Award ceremony where I perform on stage as a “minor domo.” Bill was, without question, a superb scientist — he won his Nobel Prize alone, not as part of a team, which is quite rare — and a gifted teacher; two of his students went on to win their own Nobels. His musical abilities were notable; he played the clarinet with the skill of a professional. Above all, Bill was a great humanist and a very wise man. At his memorial service, among the ...

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