The name is Blodgett, Katherine Blodgett

I have had a poster on Katherine Blodgett for the longest time in my drafts folder now. This A-Z blog challenge spurred me to finally bring it to some sort of a finish, which I hope does some justice to the person Blodgett was. Having done only two posters now in this Women in Science series, and having written about Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett in the past, I realise with a scare how very difficult it is to attempt and encapsulate a person’s life either in an essay or some other form. Yes, we admire those people and want to share this special thing we feel for them with others, but I am left wondering if we are being reductionists here. I am tempted to think this is an occupational hazard with biographers.

Despite that feeling of inadequacy in my mind, I present to you Katherine Blodgett of the LB film fame.

katherine blodgett.jpg



Short term course in Nanoscience

The Department of Chemistry, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi is organising a short term course in Nanoscience. It is titled: Recent Development in Nanomaterials for Energy and Health Care Applications. The course runs from December 19 – 24, 2016. Details appended below.


Sir Harold Kroto (1939 – 2016)

Sir Harold Kroto, co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of fullerenes is no more.

With a PhD in Molecular Spectroscopy from the University of Sheffield (1958), and following postdoctoral stints at NRC, Ottawa, and Bell Labs, New Jersey, Sir Kroto was appointed at the University of Sussex in 1967. He rose to full professorship in 1975. It was at this time that he was carrying out microwave measurements on long chain linear carbon molecules along with David Walton at Sussex. This lead to a collaboration with Canadian astronomers which resulted in the important and surprising finding that these carbonaceous species were found in large abundance in interstellar spaces.

Experimental simulation of the interstellar conditions in the laboratory (along with Robert Curl and Rick Smalley at Rice University) lead to the groundbreaking discovery of the C60 molecule. It was Sir Kroto who named this molecule bukminsterfullerene after Buckminster Fuller of the geodesic dome fame. It was for this discovery that Sir Kroto (along with Robert Curl and Rick Smalley) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

sir kroto

Sir Kroto against the backdrop of the C60 molecule.
Photo: FSU

In addition to his research (since 2004 at Florida State University, where he was the Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry), Sir Kroto was passionate about science education and science communication. The Vega Science Trust, UK was jointly set up by Sir Kroto. He was also instrumental in setting up the Global Educational Outreach for Science, Engineering and Technology, GEOSET, which is an online storehouse of educational videos from leading universities the world over.

Sir Kroto was an enthusiastic participant at the Lunch with Laureate Program of the USA Science and Engineering Festival in 2010, and at the Lindau Nobel Laureates’ Meet in 2012. At FSU, he was also engaged in science outreach activities.

Recipient of a host of honours and awards from all over the world, he was an ardent graphics designer, and was duly recognised and feted for this ability as well.

Talking to the science-fair finalists at the International Science and Engineering Fair last year, what Sir Kroto said resonates very strongly with me. And I quote: “I think the most important thing that young people should be taught at school is how they can decide what they’re being told is true.”

With your groundbreaking research, generosity of spirit, and an agile, creative mind that wed science with the arts, you have left our planet a richer place for your presence. RIP, Sir Kroto.