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History - People - Albert Wassermann

Albert Wassermann

Albert Wassermann
(1901 - 1970

Lecturer 1950 - 1958
Reader 1958 - 1970

Albert Wassermann, affectionately known as "Haschi", an organic chemist, was the son of the Austrian novelist Jakob Wassermann (author of Caspar Hauser der Trägheit des Herzens, made into an extraordinary film by Werner Herzog).

Wassermann worked on the Diels-Alder reaction, publishing a key study of the kinetics of dimerization of cyclopentadiene ( Monatsch. Chem. , 1952 , 83 , 543). He subsequently wrote a monograph, The Diels Alder Reactions Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1965 (to a large part of which Alwyn Davies claims co-authorship) which is still cited as a fundamental work in the field. With something of a reputation as a wild man, many stories still circulate about him. He was very fit, playing tennis every weekend. He had a house in Little Venice (near Paddington) and owned a cottage in Prawle in Dorset. His dog, a dalmatian, accompanied him to work every day and sat in his office, a narrow space across the hall from Alwyn Davies in the old Ramsay & Forster Laboratories. He often wore a blue smock, shorts and plimsolls in the lab. Several people remember his morning ritual of placing an electric space heater horizontally on his bench in the lab, with which he made toast. Mary-Ann Armour, who spent six months in his lab in the early 1960's remembers the smell of the toast......

Bill Woodings remembers him as 'very pleasant, when he got his way'.

Wasserman was killed, tragically, in a plane crash on 2 October 1971, during a flight from Brussels to Vienna.

We are greatful to Tony and Peter Goodeve, Bill Davies, George Heeneman and Alwyn Davies for adding to and correcting some of the information on this page.

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This page last modified 20 September, 2010

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