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History -Chemical History of UCL

1937 Sir Christopher Ingold

Sir C. Ingold

In 1937, Christopher Kelk Ingold followed Donnan as Head of Department. Ingold's work was based on the principle that, as all bonding is electronic in origin (a covalent bond resulting from the sharing of a pair of electrons), all chemical reactions, which involve the breaking and formation of bonds, must therefore be electronic reactions. Any theory of chemical reactions must therefore be, basically, an electronic theory: we need to understand the principles which govern the rest position of electrons in molecules in their grounds state, and then the way in which they move when reactions occur.

The nomenclature that he introduced, which now is a part of the everyday day fabric of chemistry, is shown in the next slide. The two most familiar systems which he elucidated are those of aliphatic nucleophilic substitution and of electrophilic aromatic substitution.

Ingold's work

Ingold's work

Ingold did much of his work in collaboration with E.D. Hughes , a Welshman whose father really did know Lloyd George. Whereas Ingold operated at a level of cerebration which students could only aspire to, Ted Hughes was very down to earth. At Aberystwyth he objected to the verdict of a weighing machine on the prom and had to be dissuaded by a local constable from tipping it into the sea. And at Bangor, when Don Llewellyn played soccer for Bangor City, Ted dribbled his waste paper basket round his office to show him how it should be done. He always kept quiet about he fact that he ran a string of racing greyhounds, and was regularly given a racing calendar at the Department's Christmas party.

During the war, the Department was evacuated to Aberystwyth in Wales, which imposed a large Department on a small one. There is a story (from Jim Millen) illustrating Ingold's concentration of chemistry to the exclusion of other distractions. He did his duty of overnight fire watching at the chemistry department, and his wife Hilda acted as the departmental secretary. He was walking home after an overnight stint, thinking of aromatic nitration, as she was walking into the department. She said 'Good morning, Professor Ingold'. He replied politely 'Good morning madan', raising his had, not appreciating who he had spoken to.

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This page last modified 20 September, 2010

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