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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 18 (2013) pp 333-337
DOI 10.1007/s00897132520

Paul Walden (1863–1957): A Retrospective View on the Sesquicentennial of His Birth

George B. Kauffman*and Jean-Pierre Adloff

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034, georgek@mail.fresnostate.edu; Honorary Professor, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France F-67100, jp.adloff@noos.fr

Published: 30 December 2013

Abstract. The 150th anniversary of the birth of Latvian chemist Paul Walden (1863–1957) was commemorated in the UNESCO Celebrations Day Calendar for the year 2013, and on May 14, 2013 Latvia issued a postage stamp honoring the sesquicentennial of his birth. It followed the 150th anniversary, celebrated in 2012, of the Riga Technical University (Rigas tehniska universitate, RTU), the oldest technical university in the Baltics and the first polytechnic institute in Imperial Russia, established on October 14, 1862. Every three years, beginning in 1988, the Paul Walden Medal is awarded in chemistry and the history of science, Walden's favorite disciplines, by the Riga Technical University in Latvia. The life and work of Walden, born on July 26, 1863, best known for the reaction called the Walden inversion, especially his contributions to organic chemistry and the history of science are briefly discussed.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; Organic Chemistry; Walden inversion; chiral molecules; organic reaction mechanisms; dynamic stereochemistry; physical organic chemistry; Walden’s rule; autoracemization; history of science; Baltic science; Latvia; Nobel Prizes; Russian chemistry; World War II

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: georgek@mail.fresnostate.ed)

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