The Life of a Chemist: Memoirs of Vladimir N. Ipatieff

The Life of a Chemist: Memoirs of Vladimir N. Ipatieff

The Life of a Chemist: Memoirs of Vladimir N. Ipatieff

The Life of a Chemist: Memoirs of Vladimir N. Ipatieff

Excerpt

An American colleague of Professor V. N. Ipatieff said that he stands with Mendeleev and Lomonosov as one of Russia's three outstanding chemists and "has had a far greater influence on world chemistry than his two famous countrymen." The American Chemical Society recognized his achievement in 1940 by awarding him the Willard Gibbs medal, an honor which had been given previously to only three Europeans, Arrhenius, Curie, and Willstätter. The memoirs of a scientist of such distinction as these honors and many others attest should be of great scientific interest. Ipatieff has already published his "chemical autobiography" in his Catalytic Reactions at High Pressures and Temperatures (1936). Scientific interest, therefore, is not the main reason for including these memoirs in the Hoover Library Series.

The purpose of the volumes on Russia in this series is to present various aspects of Russian life and institutions before and since the Revolution of 1917. The memoirs of Count Kokovtsov and Mr. Gurko, the testimony of Admiral Kolchak, and documents of the revolutionary movement and of the Revolution itself, have dealt with political, economic, and military developments; but none has been concerned with science. In his long and distinguished career, Professor Ipatieff has touched many sides of Russian scientific life, both practical and academic, before and since the Revolution. He was a professor and a Member of the Academy of Sciences; he was the head of Russian chemical-warfare developments during World War I; he was intimately concerned with the restoration of the chemical industry in the U.S.S.R. after the Revolution and with scientific and administrative activities during the first twelve years of the Soviet regime. A scientist's recollection of what he did and saw in these eventful years is an interesting and, I believe, important source of information on the recent history of Russia.

Since many of the institutions and persons mentioned in the memoirs are less familiar to American than they are to Russian readers, we have prepared notes to identify most of them. These notes are arranged alphabetically and are wholly the responsibility of the editors. The footnotes are the author's.

Mrs. Eudin, Mrs. Fisher, and I are under obligation to Lieutenant William Harrover for his work on the manuscript before he entered the Army, to Mr. Dimitry M. Krassovsky and our other colleagues on the staff of the Hoover Library, and to Mr. George I. Gay, who made the Index. I have a great personal obligation to Professor Ipatieff for his patience, unfailing courtesy, and help during the preparation of this book.

H. H. FISHER

STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA

January 1946 . . .

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