Curiosity and faith fueled Henry Eyring

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  • Vanka Provo, UT
    May 1, 2011 12:00 p.m.

    Eyring got lucky to go to Berlin and work with Polanyi, who was already a famous theoretical chemist, and had conceived the "visual approach" to quantum chemistry on his own.

    Eyring had "a flair for making useful approximations" and making up names ("semiempirical method", "activated complex" and a symbol for it that was really his secretary's typo).

    Eyring's job as Polanyi's assistant was merely graphing the potential-energy surfaces, using his experience making contour maps while studying geology and mining in Arizona. He also introduced "several ad hoc correction factors" into Polanyi's procedure, for which their work was later criticized.

    Harold Urey, editor of the Journal of Chemical Physics, had to be personally pressured by both Wigner and Taylor to publish Eyring's 1935 paper, and then only with significant revisions and the addition of an appendix that was not Eyring's idea. Urey said "the method of proof is unreliable and the result is spurious."

    His Princeton students were constantly frustrated that experimental work in Eyring's lab lagged so far behind "calculations."

    In 1937, at a contentious meeting of the Faraday Society, Guggenheim was outright hostile, characterizing Eyring's paper as "unintelligible."

  • Timj South Jordan, UT
    April 30, 2011 6:44 a.m.

    Agreed that "Reflections of a Scientist" is a great book. It is out of print, but it's available on Kindle.

    I love the focus this past week on science and Mormonism. Keep it up, DN.

  • Jimmy James Salt Lake City, Ut
    April 28, 2011 8:44 p.m.

    One of my all time favorite books is by Henry Eyring: "Reflections of a Scientist". I think it's out of print but I feel extremely fortunate to have a copy of the book. I'm sure this guy understood science, but what I appreciate most are his insights into the gospel. They're not "deep doctrine", but man are they profound.

    Whenever I hear of people who leave the church for "academic" reasons, I think to myself: "If you had just read Henry Eyring's book, I don't think you would be doing that."

  • gr8britton Salt Lake City, UT
    April 28, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    "LDS biographers and historians fail to tell the whole story".

    Wow!!! Where did this animosity come from? I think that this was talking about Dr. Eyrings accomplishments. You're out of order mentioning that "LDS" scolars are omitting things to impress us about Dr. Eyring and keep other things hidden. I'm sure that anyone who wants to know about ART in depth can find out about the hidden story the is being repressed by Mormons if they are interested. Then they can form the same absurd conspiracy theory you've concocted.

    Give me a break.

  • ringger Provo, UT
    April 28, 2011 2:54 p.m.

    More info. on Wikipedia under "Theory of absolute rate"

  • Conservative Cedar City, UT
    April 28, 2011 1:26 p.m.

    Henry Eyring was a great scientist. "Eyring's greatest scientific achievement is called the Absolute Rate Theory (ART)."

    For the sake of truth and honesty (which Dr. Eyring strongly advocated),LDS biographers and historians fail to tell the whole story:

    Another scientist, Michael Polanyi, simultaneously (and separately) developed the Absolute Rate Theory (ART). He was an even greater scientist. In fact two of Dr Polanyi's students went on to win the Nobel Prize.

    But those facts never made it into our "official" rendition of history!

  • Hans in California Valencia, CA
    April 28, 2011 1:01 p.m.

    "ART has been called one of the most potent forces to ever appear in chemistry and nearly won Eyring the Nobel Peace Prize."

    Actually Eyring nearly won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Several other chemists won the prize based on their work using ART. An excuse given at the time was that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences apparently did not understand Eyring's theory until it was too late to award him the Nobel, though they did award him their Berzelius Medal in 1977 as partial compensation.

    The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of five persons who are chosen by the Norwegian Storting (Parliament). The other Nobel prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, and Economics are awarded by Swedish academies.

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    April 28, 2011 11:18 a.m.

    Why did the article leave out any mention of his son, Henry B. Eyring, current member of the 1st Presidency of the LDS Church? Dr. Eyring came so close to winning a Nobel Prize. I wish one could be awarded to him posthumanously (sp? sorry I don't know the spelling of the word).

  • DR Hampton Portage, MI
    April 28, 2011 10:19 a.m.

    Dr. Eyring is probably the greatest LDS scientist in terms of reputation and accomplishments. I remember reading about the Eyring viscosity model in my transport phenomena textbook. He clearly left a legacy of faith. His brother-in-law was Spencer W. Kimball. Pres. Henry B. Eyring is his son. Can a faithful latter-day saint be a good scientist? Here is exhibit A. Duane

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    April 28, 2011 9:26 a.m.

    The article didn't say, but Dr. Eyring and Elder Smith probably discussed the creation of the earth and the origin of man, because the two men are known to have had different positions on that topic. His discussion with Elder Smith is an example of the fact that LDS, whether lay members like Dr. Eyring or General Authorities like Elder Smith, have their opinions about things, and that the LDS aren't inspired in all statements they make.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    April 28, 2011 9:15 a.m.

    I was a missionary in West Virginia in 1957 when Dr. Eyring came to speak at the local chapter of the American Chemical Society. The man we were teaching was the Secretary of the chapter and was assigned to host Dr. Eyring. He asked Dr. Eyring what he would like to do during the hours before he spoke to the chapter, thinking he would want to visit the chemical plants in the area and see their current research. He was surprised and impressed when Dr. Eyring said he wanted to visit the state capitol building and learn about the people of the area.