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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 20 (2015) pp 183-193

Michael J. Laing (1937–2012), Obituary of a Lovable, Inspirational Inorganic Chemist, Chemical Educator, and Science Popularizer

George B. Kauffman*and Laurie M. Kauffman

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034,

Published: 5 August 2015

Abstract. Michael John Laing, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Natal, Durban (now University of KwaZulu-Natal), South Africa, died on January 12, 2012 at the age of 74 after a long, painful illness. Mike was born in Durban, graduated from the University of Natal, Durban with honors in chemistry, earned his M.S. degree there, and earned his Ph.D. in X-ray crystallography from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1964. He returned to The University of Natal, Durban, where he spent the rest of his working life except for two stintsas a Visiting Professor at the California State University, Northridge in 1970 and 1988. Mike’s contributions to inorganic chemistry, coordination chemistry, crystal and molecular structure, chemical education, and the periodic table as well as his role as a demonstrator, mentor, and science popularizer are discussed. Comments and remembrances of colleagues, both personal and professional, are included.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; Inorganic Chemistry; Coordination Chemistry; Periodic System; Molecular Structure; Crystal Structure; Chemical Education; Chemical Bonding; Chemical Demonstrations; Chemical Magic Shows; Fossils; Urinary Calculi; Popular Scientific Literature; Scientific Mentoring; X-Ray Crystallography; Military History; Fireworks; Explosives; Computer Programs; South Africa; International Conferences; Nobel Laureates

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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