Chemical Physics: Molecular Clouds, Clusters, and Corrals

  • Dudley Herschbach


In its modern incarnation, chemical physics as a field is generally regarded as having been born in 1933, along with the The Journal of Chemical Physics. Its first editor, H. C. Urey, declared that “the boundary... has been completely bridged... chemists and physicists have become equally serious students of atoms and molecules” (Urey, 1933). Among other evangelical founders were P. Debye, H. Eyring, G. B. Kistiakowsky, I. Langmuir, G. N. Lewis, L. Pauling, K. S. Pitzer, J. C. Slater, J. H. Van Vleck, and E. B. Wilson, Jr. Actually, Urey’s bridge was still rickety and had to stretch over a wide cultural gulf (Nye, 1993). A major impetus for the new journal was the fact that The Journal of Physical Chemistry refused to accept any purely theoretical paper (and continued to do so for another two decades). By 1939, however, Slater had published his Introduction to Chemical Physics, and by 1942 Wilson and Van Vleck had established at Harvard the first Ph.D. program in chemical physics. Over the next 50 years, means of elucidating molecular structure and dynamics developed enormously, by virtue of pervasive applications of quantum theory and experimental tools provided by physics, especially myriad spectroscopic methods.


Guest Molecule Rotational State Interstellar Cloud Supersonic Nozzle Dark Cloud 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

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  • Dudley Herschbach

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