With chapters on: Rachel Carson, Charles A. Coulson, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Arthur S. Eddington, Albert Einstein, Ronald A. Fisher, Julian Huxley, Pascual Jordan, Robert A. Millikan, Ivan P. Pavlov, Michael I. Pupin, Abdus Salam, Edward O. Wilson
Edited By Nicolaas A. Rupke
ARIE LEEGWATER Charles Alfred Coulson (1910-74) 73
Charles Alfred Coulson: Mixing Methodism and Quantum Chemistry ARIE LEEGWATER MY EPITAPH Here lies a youth, Who loved, Who lived, And who learned to give God thanks for that love and for that life. (CP: MS 19, A.19.1)1 Will you reflect for a moment on some of the things that I have been saying? I de- scribed a bond, a normal simple chemical bond: and I gave many details of its character (and I could have given many more). Sometimes it seems to me that a bond between two atoms has become so real, so tangible, so friendly that I can ahmst see it. And then I awake with a little shock; for a chemical bond is not a real thing: it does not exist: no-one has ever seen it, no-one ever can. It is a fig- ment of our imagination. (Coulson 1955c, 2084) Not only is science biological and social: it is artistic and vocational, i.e. is of the spirit [...] science is itself an essentially religious activity. (Coulson 1954a, 331) Introduction: two separate persons? This chapter is configured about a person, a religious tradition and a nas- cent theoretical discipline. The three quotations cited highlight three im- portant aspects or moments of the life of the English scientist Charles A. Coulson (1910-74): an epitaph, written soon after his conversion exper- ience at Cambridge University at the age of 19 in 1930; the summary of the Tilden Lecture delivered in 1951 on the elusive character of the chemical bond,...
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