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October 22, 2010 Meeting
- Basolo Award Dinner-


Dr. Roald Hoffmann
Dr. Roald Hoffmann

Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Emeritus,
Cornell University
Recipient of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

“The Chemical Imagination at Work in Very Tight Places”

Date:  October 22 , 2010
Location:    Northwestern University
2145 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
Lecture room 3, 1st floor
Technological Institute
Dinner: Zhivago Restaurant & Banquets
9925 Gross Point Road
Skokie, IL

Cost:  $35.00 for members of ACS and their guests, $37.00 for non-members,
     $20 for students, retired, or unemployed

Dinner reservations are required and should be received in the Section Office via phone (847-391-9091), email (, or web by noon on Tuesday, October 19.   PLEASE HONOR YOUR RESERVATIONS.  The Section must pay for all food orders.  No-shows will be billed.  Seating will be available for those who wish to attend only the meeting.


4:30 PM  Basolo Medal Lecture at Lecture Room 3, Tech Institute
5:30 PM Job Club at Zhivago's
6:15 PM  Reception for Dr. Hoffmann at Zhivago's, complementary wine, soft drinks, hors d'oeuvres
7:15 PM  Dinner at Zhivago's,  Reservations required
8:30 PM General Meeting, presentation of the Basolo Medal by Dr. Mark Ratner, Chair, Dept. of Chemistry, Northwestern, acceptance by Dr. Roald Hoffman, 2010 Basolo Medalist for Outstanding Research in Inorganic Chemistry

Topic: “The Chemical Imagination at Work in Very Tight Places”


Diamond anvil cell and shock–wave technologies now permit the study of matter under multimegabar (i.e. several hundreds GPa) pressures. The properties of matter in this pressure regime differ drastically from those known at 1 atm. Just how different chemistry is at high pressure and the role that a chemical intuition for bonding and structure can have in understanding matter at high pressures will be explored in this lecture. I will discuss in detail an overlapping hierarchy of responses to increased density, consisting of (a) squeezing out van der Waals space (for molecular crystals); (b) increasing coordination; (c) decreasing the bond length of covalent bonds and the size of anions; and (d) an extreme regime of electrons moving off atoms and new modes of correlation. Examples of the startling chemistry and physics that emerge under such extreme conditions will alternate in this account with qualitative chemical ideas about the bonding involved.


Roald Hoffmann was born in 1937 in Złoczów, Poland. Having survived the war, he came to the U.S. in 1949, and studied chemistry at Columbia and Harvard (Ph.D. 1962). Since 1965, he has been at Cornell University and is currently the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Emeritus.

He has received many of the honors of his profession, including the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (shared with Kenichi Fukui). "Applied theoretical chemistry" is the way Roald Hoffmann likes to characterize the particular blend of computations stimulated by experiment and the construction of generalized models, of frameworks for understanding, that is his contribution to chemistry. The pedagogical perspective is very strong in his work.

Notable at the same time is his reaching out to the general public. He participated, for example, in the production of a television course in introductory chemistry titled "The World of Chemistry," shown widely since 1990. As a writer, Hoffmann has carved out a land between science, poetry, and philosophy, through many essays and three books, Chemistry Imagined with artist Vivian Torrence, The Same and Not the Same (translated into six languages) and Old Wine, New Flasks: Reflections on Science and Jewish Tradition, with Shira Leibowitz Schmidt.

Hoffmann is also an accomplished poet and playwright. Four collections of his poetry have been published, as well a book of translations of his poems into Spanish. He has also written a widely produced play with fellow chemist Carl Djerassi, entitled Oxygen, and by himself two other plays, Should’ve, and Something That Belongs to You.

Unadvertised, a monthly cabaret Hoffmann runs at the Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village, “Entertaining Science”, has become the hot cheap ticket in NYC.

Map and Directions

Parking:   Free across from the Technological Institute. 

Directions to the restaurant from the Tech Institute in Evanston: Go North on Sheridan Rd. and turn left on Central St. Turn left on Gross Point Rd. and proceed to the restaurant.

Parking: Free in the lot. Parking is also available at Keeler Avenue and Gross Point Road.

Dinner (at Zhivago Restaurant):


Last updated 9/24/10
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