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Walter Hugo Stockmayer (1914Ц2004) Macromolecules.

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Obituary
Walter Hugo Stockmayer (1914–
2004): Macromolecules
After many years in science Professor
Walter Hugo Stockmayer passed away
peacefully on May 9, 2004, at his home
in Norwich VT, just one
month after his 90th birthday. This fact may have
escaped our attention were
it not for the informative
obituary
by
Marshall
Fixman
and
Ronald
Koningsveldt in Macromolecules. Macromolecules was
founded by Stockmayer
together with Frank Bovey
and Field Winslow, and he
was Associate Editor from 1968 to
1994. Any author who interacted with
him will remember his kind and stimulating suggestions.
Walter Hugo Stockmayer was born
on April 7, 1914, in Rutherford, NJ.
His father was a chemist who worked
for a dye company in Stuttgart (Germany) and moved to the USA in 1909
to work in the New York branch. His
mother, who in 1890 emigrated to the
USA from Estonia, brought an artistic
atmosphere into the family and took
care of her sons musical training.
Later on in life, Stocky (as he liked to
be called) played the piano in private
and in open concerts. His grandfather
on his mothers side, who had fought in
the Civil War and returned to Estonia,
finally found a position on Ellis Island
as an interpreter for immigrants from
Eastern Europe.
In 1931 Stocky started his college
training at MIT in Boston. The transition from school to college at first
came as a shock, but he soon developed
discipline and learnt to cope with the
workload. He escaped from his routine
by taking on advanced extra courses by
outstanding professors in mathematics
and modern physics. In 1935 he applied
for the prestigious Cecil Rhodes Scholarship for training at Oxford University.
He received the grant and spent two
years at Jesus College. He was not very
happy with the English style of research,
which in those days was mainly empirical; Stocky was more interested in
really understanding phenomena. His
research on the “Poisoning of a Palla-
1754
dium Catalyst by Carbon Monoxide”
was published in 1940. Stocky was an
active sportsman all his life, and when
asked about his time in Oxford, his
response was always: “Rowing on the
river was number one!”. But he did
train himself intensively in modern
fields of research.
Stocky left Oxford in 1937 a little
disappointed. He was not yet sure what
to do next. He began a PhD at MIT
and graduated in 1940. His work was
concerned with the thermodynamics of
real gases, and his main contribution
was the induction of dipoles in molecules and the derivation of the interaction potential between such polar gas
molecules (Stockmayer potential),
which already brought him fame at a
young age.
Stockmayer then left MIT for
Columbia University, New York. He
wished to be close to Joseph E. and
Maria G. Mayer. Even then he was not
sure which direction to take, until he
came across the work by Paul J. Flory
on the gelation of multifunctional polyesters. Stocky himself described this revelation as a “bombshell”, and it changed
everything for him. Flory was already
well-known for his derivation of molarmass distributions from polymerization
kinetics and he derived a simple mathematical equation for the conditions for
gel formation. Stocky immediately
tried to extend this theory, but his
work did not proceed as easily as he
anticipated. It was Maria Goeppert
Mayer who noticed his difficulties; she
was often at his side and followed his
work keenly. She finally said, “Stocky,
why dont you try the way we did with
the real-gas theory?”. And this was the
breakthrough. Flory was excited by this
approach, and this was the beginning
of a life-long steadfast friendship. In
the meantime the USA had entered
the war, and although most scientific
activities were delayed, the paper was
published in 1943.[1] This and his consecutive paper made Stocky famous overnight. It was with this theory that Stockmayer introduced strict mathematical
argumentation into macromolecular
chemistry. The path he was to follow
was now clear to him. He returned to
MIT and subsequently developed theories on ring formation, on excludedvolume interaction, and on conforma-
tional properties of chains and branched
clusters. He also made the first decisive
steps in unraveling problems in copolymers.
Although Professor Stockmayer was
considered by most as a pure theoretician, this impression is misleading. In
the first years of his career he did a considerable amount of experimental work.
Inspired by Bruno Zimm, he became
interested in light scattering (LS).
Together with his student E.-H. Stanley,
he built an improved version of Zimms
LS instrument and carried out one of the
first measurements on copolymers.
However, the theory of light scattering
first had to be solved for multicomponent systems. It transpired that Kirkwood was working on this problem at
the same time. He was so impressed
with Stockys design that he delayed
his own publication until Stocky had finished his work.[2]
At the peak of his career at MIT,
Stocky unexpectedly left in 1961 to
take a chair at Dartmouth College
(Hanover, NH). He felt his research
had become a little stale and he wished
to return to teaching. Stocky was an
enthusiastic mountain climber and
enjoyed the proximity of the White
Mountains. In his first years at Dartmouth he felt somewhat isolated from
the world. Soon, however, his interest
in science was revitalized by J. E.
Hearst, a young professor in biochemistry at Berkley who was on sabbatical
leave at Dartmouth. Hearst sought a
quantitative interpretation for his
results from sedimentation analysis of
DNA molecules. The collaboration reawoke Stockys creativity and led to significant work on chain stiffness of open
and cyclic stiff macromolecules, with
which he was fascinated until the end
of his life. In this second creative phase
Stocky made significant contributions
to theory of local chain dynamics, and
he carried out experimental work on
the dielectric relaxation of long polar
chains to test the theories.[3]
Stocky remained very interested in
the ideas and progress of other people,
and he was an impressively attentive listener. He was careful in choosing suitable places and stimulating people for
sabbatical leaves. The first was at the
Centre de Recherches sur les Macromolcules in Strasbourg (1954/55), another
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200500381
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 1754 – 1755
2005 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
Angewandte
Chemie
at Tokyo Kyoiku and Kyoto University
(1966), and the last two were at the
DSM in the Netherlands with Ronald
Koningsveldt (1972) and at the Institute
of Macromolecular Chemistry in Freiburg, Germany (1978/79). Ron Koningsveldt shared a love of music with Stocky
and they enjoyed playing together on
different pianos. Their combined
research projects led to a comprehensive monograph on phase-separation
phenomena with polymers. Stocky
stimulated Ron to write his own music,
which led to the now often recited Polymer Music.
Stocky bore fond memories of his
last sabbatical leave in Freiburg (1978).
There he came into contact with the rapidly developing field of dynamic LS,
which completed his knowledge of
chain dynamics. He was overwhelmed
by the wealth of cultural life in Germany, especially the opera and chamber
music, and he enjoyed hiking in the
nearby Black Forest. However, he was
particularly touched by the young PhD
students, who felt deeply ashamed of
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 1754 – 1755
Germanys regrettable history. He later
confessed that he was not willing to
return to Germany, but when he left he
said: “I am glad I came to Freiburg and
I dont regret my decision. I now know,
Germany has changed.” I am grateful
to my students for instilling this feeling
in him.
Professor Stockmayer received
numerous honors, and only a few can
be mentioned here. He received the
highest honors from the US Government and the American Chemical and
Physical Societies. Several universities
abroad bestowed honorary doctorates
on him. In Germany he received the
Humboldt Award for Senior Scientists
(1978) and the Hermann Staudinger
Prize of the German Chemical Society
(2001). Stockmayer felt especially honored by the latter prize, which was
awarded to a non-German scientist for
the first time.
The long list impressively shows
Walter Hugo Stockmayer as a great scientist. His main impact was probably the
introduction of precise mathematics into
www.angewandte.org
polymer science, which decisively incorporated macromolecular chemistry into
polymer science and made it an exact
science. His knowledge in science was
always accompanied by a warm and considerate human side. Anyone who met
him will always remember his ability to
concentrate on the person in front of
him. We all, colleagues and friends, will
miss him.
Walther Burchard
Institut fr Makromolekulare Chemie
Hermann-Staudinger-Haus
Albert-Ludwigs-Universitt Freiburg
(Germany)
[1] W. H. Stockmayer, J. Chem. Phys. 1943,
11, 45; W. H. Stockmayer, J. Chem.
Phys. 1944, 12, 125.
[2] W. H. Stockmayer, J. Chem. Phys. 1950,
18, 58; J. G. Kirkwood, J. Goldberg, J.
Chem. Phys. 1950, 18, 54.
[3] J. E. Hearst, W. H. Stockmayer, J. Chem.
Phys. 1962, 37, 1425.
2005 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
1755
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