Gilbert Stork's 90th Birthday

Gilbert Stork's 90th Birthday

Author: Jonathan Faiz

The organic chemist Gilbert Stork celebrated his 90th birthday on December 31, 2011. In his long career, Stork has accomplished the total syntheses of cincholoipon, cantharidin, and reserpine, among other targets. He has also contributed to the development of synthetic methodology, including the Stork enamine reaction.

Jeffrey I. Seeman, University of Richmond, USA, has assembled a series of quotes and pictures that give snapshots about Stork’s life and illustrate his personal qualities, including how he got fired from his job as waiter, and how he defines the true meaning of success in organic synthesis. Some other stories give a true insight into Stork’s character: he would keep food in the lab and once threw a raw steak into a bath containing hot fuming nitric and sulfuric acid. It was only after the bath started fuming with red nitrous oxides did Stork realise that the glycerides in the steak could become nitrated and form nitroglycerine and therefore blow up the chemistry department!

Image: Seeman and Stork examining the R. B. Woodward
collection, Harvard University Archives, August 2009.
© Wiley-VCH

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