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Nobel Prize


From the archives: The 1930s

C&EN’s predecessor covers the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

by Alexander H. Tullo
April 23, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 13


Logo with text "A look back at how C&EN has covered noteworthy events in chemistry over the past 100 years."

Nowadays, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry announcement is one of C&EN’s biggest news events. We host webinars where chemists speculate on who might win, and reporters wake up before dawn to hear the early-morning announcement from Stockholm so they can report the winner posthaste. It wasn’t always so. In 1930, the story in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, News Edition, as we were then known, of Hans Fischer’s Nobel was only one paragraph, and it also included news of the physics laureate that year, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman. Carl Bosch and Friedrich Bergius got two paragraphs in 1931. We wrote our first full news story, much like we do today, in 1932, when Irving Langmuir won. Langmuir, who received the award for his contributions to surface chemistry, is the eponym of the American Chemical Society journal Langmuir. He was a researcher at General Electric and is credited with filling light bulbs with inert gas. Langmuir was ACS president in 1929, and one wonders if Langmuir himself was a source for the article because of the piece’s richness in personal detail, such as the following: “He taught himself differential and integral calculus and yet at all times he was just a healthy, normal boy, deeply interested in all outdoor activities, including photography.”

A clipping of an old C&EN article (then known as Industrial and Engineering Chemistry). The headline reads "Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 1932 Awarded to Irving Langmuir." There is a zoomed in section of the article with a highlighted excerpt.
Credit: C&EN Archives


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