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William Lipscomb's Nobel Prize Congratulatory Letters

William Lipscomb Home Page
Nobel Prize Scrapbook, 1976
This page

  1. Yuan Yuan Chiu  Only one paper was interesting.
  2. Robert Collin.  Sledge hammer late at night.
  3. Brian Dickens.  After-hours musical group meets Bill's son.
  4. Brian Edwards.  A poem with apologies to Robert Service.
  5. Russell Grimes.  Pentaborane explosion.
  6. Truman Jordan.  From the fall of man to salvation.  Bill's prodigious ability.
  7. Edward Kostansek.  Sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle.
  8. E. Lippert.  Liquid nitrogen on the bus.
  9. Lawrence Lohr.  Where is the inorganic Woodward?
  10. Lillian MacVey.  Young Billy swinging from the chandelier.
  11. Sheldon Shore.  With the possible exception of myself.
  12. Andrew Szent-Gyorgyi.  50,000 cans of tennis balls.
  13. Donald Voet.  The great air rifle caper.
  14. Frederick Wang.  Convincing Bill to knock on the darkroom door.
  15. Steve Warren.  Surprise on the plane.
  16. Peter J. Wheatley.  All-purpose congratulatory letter.

1. Yuan-Yuan Chiu.  Only one paper was interesting.

Not long after joining [the] Colonel's research group, I met him on the third floor steps of Gibbs one day.  I said to him, "Welcome back from the Conference.  Were there many interesting papers?"  [The] Colonel said, "No, only one was interesting."  I said, "Oh!  I see, the one given by you!"  Waving his arm, he replied happily, "Yes!  You know me!!"

Yuan Yuan Chiu
1967-1970, 1972-1974

Chiu's Publications with Lipscomb

Chiu, Y.-Y., Brown, L. D., & Lipscomb, W. N., "Crystal and Molecular Structure of Complex between cyclo(L-Prolylglycyl)4 and RbSCN," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 99, 4799-4803 (1977).

Chiu, Y.-Y., & Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular and Crystal Structure of Streptonigrin," J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 97, 2525-2530 (1975).

Chiu, Y.-Y. H., & Lipscomb, W. N., "The Crystal and Molecular Structure of C14O7NH21 , 1-acetyl-trans-3, trans-4-isopropylidenedioxy-cis-4-acetoxymethyl-2-acetoxypyrrolidine," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 96, 978-982 (1974).

Chiu, Y.-Y. and Lipscomb, W. N., "The Molecular and Crystal Structure of P2O4C12H18, 1,8-Diethoxy-3a,4,7,7a-Tetrahydro-4,7-Phosphinidenephosphindiole-1,8-Dioxide. A. Diels-Alder Dimer of 1-Ethoxyphosphate-l-Oxide," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 91, 4150-4155 (1969).


2. Robert Collin.  Sledge hammer late at night.

As a first year graduate student I was toying with the idea of crystallography for a research field when Bill Lipscomb showed up at Minnesota fresh from Cal Tech. Any lingering reluctance I might have had about crystallography was. dispelled by Bill‘s enthusiasm, energy, and brashness.

As a lecturer Bill could be very good but he had a habit of not rehearsing complex mathematical derivations. This meant he had to work them out on the blackboard as he went along with much backtracking and erasures - A procedure illuminating to these of us trying to learn the mental processes of physical chemistry but disastrous to those, mainly organic chemists, whose prime interest was in writing a neat sat of lecture notes.

When there was a job to be done Bill was never one to spend much time searching for just the right tool or waiting for just the right conditions. Ho would take what was handy and sail right in. His first low temperature laboratory was fashioned out of an old darkroom by breaking out the inner walls with a sledge hammer late at night after those who might be concerned about the internal integrity of the building had left for the day, At the end of my graduate studies while standing around wondering how to get rid of a vacuum line full of diborane Bill walked in, asked me what the problem was, and then picked up e ring-stand and brought it crashing down on the glassware. The glass shattered with a roar and my problem disappeared in a bright green flash.

Bill also participated in the intellectual life of the University to the full and was particularly concerned even then about the application of molecular science to biology. At a colloquium discussing the difficulty of distinguishing man from a machine Bill made his contribution by pointing out that as an experimental scientist he had observed that, "machines made less noise when well-oiled".

In his first years at Minnesota Bill had many successes in research and won many converts to new ways of looking at chemical and crystallographic problems but he had one failure that should be recorded. Much of his energy the first year went into trying to teach faculty and students a peculiar type of baseball then popular in California. Like many other California imports this met with massive resistance from everyone and Bill was never able to convince us that this short-base baseball ever had the least bit of merit. But I left Minnesota before Bill did and, I don't know, maybe he persisted and maybe new they do play California baseball in Minnesota, Maybe they even play it at Harvard!

Robert L. Collin
1946-1950

Collins' Publications with Lipscomb

Abrahams, S. C., Collin, R. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "The Crystal Structure of Hydrogen Peroxide," Acta Cryst. 4, 15 (1951).

Collin, R. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "The Crystal Structure of Hydrazine," Acta Cryst. 4, 10 (1951).

Abrahams, S. C., Collin, R. L., Lipscomb, W. N. and Reed, T. B., "Further Techniques in Single-Crystal X-ray Diffraction Studies at Low Temperatures," Rev. Sci. Instr. 21, 396 (1950).

Collin, R. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Eclipsed Configuration of the Hydrazine Molecule in the Solid State," J. Chem. Phys. 18, 566 (1950).

Collin, R. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "The Crystal Structure of Groutite, HMnO2," Acta Cryst. 2, 104 (1949).


3. Brian Dickens.  After-hours musical group meets Bill's son.

I began graduate school in September 1958 at the University of Minnesota because I wished to avoid being drafted into the British Army and because Minnesota was the largest U.S. school which accepted me. For complex family reasons, I had worked in England for a storage battery company and had gone to night school rather than pursue full time study. Originally I had intended to work for Kolthoff at Minnesota on some aspect of electrochemistry relevant to the battery company. However, I quickly learned that between 5 and 7 years might be needed for a Ph.D. with Kolthoff and I had been given only 3 years leave of absence by my British employer. I chose to work with Lipscomb (whom I had not heard of before) because he had organo-metallic structures to be solved and I was attracted to the idea of molecular structure, particularly of organo-metallics. Furthermore, the projected time seemed more acceptable.

My graduate school experiences began in cultural shock because of differences in country (USA vs. UK), modes of living, slang, institutions, food, attitudes (living to work rather than working to live) and also because until September 1953 I had lived in an environment which Lipscomb once described as "as a glimpse into a former century." Almost immediately, more hazards appeared. Lipscomb moved to Harvard in April 1959 and to keep my timetable of as close to 3 years as possible I had to.cram the course work at Minnesota in 15 months even though I had taken only 7 credits the first quarter. In addition, I rendered minimal help to Bill Streib in his determination of an alkaloid unit cell and wasted several boxes of X-ray film on my first crystal. Later I learned not to spread myself so thinly.

In January 1960 I moved to Harvard and began to collect "real" Xray data on C8H8Fe(CO) ill-advisedly using only the precession method and Mo radiation. Collecting all the data took a long time. Also the crystal had to be kept cool -- at Minnesota this was easily accomplished by opening the window. After a 6 week interruption in England because of the death of a close friend, I solved the structure in Sept. 1960. I than had the task of refining the structure on the night shift (the "Matrix Society", as Lipsomb's group was known to the computer operators, required too much time so he allowed to use the computer in the day). Fortunately, the computer center was at that time opposite an apartment building where the tenants were careless with their shades. My own careless exhibition of a free hand drawing of the refined molecule (pre-ORTEP) brought me the thankless task of being Lipscomb's draftsman, using what I hope are now obsolete techniques with Leroy and stencil sets. There were times when the British army seemed to have its good points. In Jan. 1961, I began to collect data on (OC)3Fe8CH8Fe(CO)3 using the same time-consuming methods of precession photography. This crystal was stable at room temperature but had twice as many reflections as other one. I chased missing reflections with the devotion of a wolf in pursuit of a Russian peasant. The structure was easily solved in the summer of 1961 and I performed some orbital overlap calculations on both compounds using programs available in the group. In Jan. 1962 I submitted my thesis on the molecular structures of cyclo-octatetraene.

I used to practice the trumpet without benefit of formal instruction during the time Lipscomb went home for dinner. Periodically I would check for Lipscomb’s blue English Ford in the parking lot (Lipscomb seemed to harbor the suspicion that I had specially constructed the Ford for him before leaving England and was always telling me how inferior it was to his previous car, a Plymouth, Unknown to Lipscomb, we had a small quasi-musical combo on the second floor of Gibbs lab; Russell Grimes and Bill Peatman on clarinet, Fred Wang on violin and Bill Streib on tenor uke if there were less than either 4 sharps or 4 flats. Our repertoire included a quartet originally scored for violin, clarinet, oboe and cello, Mozart’s basset horn duets, Night and Day, and Basin Street Blues. One evening Lipscomb came back unexpectedly early with his son, Jimmy, who was to perform some experiment upstairs but spent a few minutes playing the trumpet part with us while I attempted to play a trombone which I had just bought for 50c. Jimmy had at that time just begun to learn the cornet and was missing as many notes on the trumpet as I was on the trombone. To make him feel better, I said, "I don't play this thing very well" and he responded in true Lipscomb fashion, "I can see that." Another musical event occurred one Christmas day when Lipscomb kindly invited a few of us out to his home. We played a piece that his sister had written for the Lipscomb family and I for one was pleased to be able to get through the piece each time without gross error. We never did get to do Basin Street Blues.

Brian Dickens (1958-1962)

Dickens' Publications with Lipscomb

Dickens, B. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular and Valence Structures of Complexes of Cyclo-Octatetraene with Iron Tricarbonyl," J. Chem. Phys. 37, 2084-2093 (1962).

Dickens, B. and Lipscomb, W. N., “Molecular Structure of C8H8Fe(CO)3," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 83, 4862 (1961).

Dickens, B. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Structure of (OC3)Fe(C8H8)Fe(Co)3," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 83, 489 (1961).


4. Brian Edwards.   A poem with apologies to Robert Service.

The Obelation Of Brian E.

( A chant accompanied by solo clarinet )

There are strange things done in the Cambridge sun,
By the men who moil for gold.
The Harvard trails have their secret tales,
That would make your blood run cold.
The Cambridge lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see,
Comprised the crew of the Colonel's zoo,
In the Gibbs Labor'toree.

"What Gibbs?" you ask, it's not my task, of gibberish to speak,
The door opes wide, and Shutt's inside, to welcome you this week;
A press'd white suit, a vile cheroot, he's Peter at the gate,
Not paradise, but near as nice, so hurry in we're late.

A philosophe, not just a prof, resides upon floor one,
Don makes small talk, "so what's up Doc?", and tells what he has done;
Upon a beach, he wants to teach, his courses if he can;
On coli plaque, and Road and Track and high speed Porsche sedan.

On second floor, behind the door, that's labelled two-oh-one,
You find the three, and their debris, who've all the assays done;
Larry and Rick, not choleric, despite their mutual TIFF,
Can find the site, if weak or tight, and plot it in a jiff.

Behind the desk, that's picturesque, with stacked coffee cup,
There smokes a man, from Michigan, who parties till sun-up;
Dave splits enzymes, loves torrid climes, and guides the young students,
Who're on rotation, towards salvation, at least its rudiments.

A pungee stick, will do the trick, opined a Flo far gone,
He sat and thought, and mad he got, when thinking of A Con;
One must not plan, with any man, who is not really edel,
He looked on high, invoked the sky, "I hope my stick is fatal".

In sneakers old, with matching mold, on J. C. Penny pants,
Steve used to stare, on bosoms bare, like all the true gallants;
Travel by rail, was never stale, he always timed his stops,
He's 'toasty warm' in every storm, when on the mountain tops.

Pause here my friend, before we ascend, and listen to the ghosts,
Of those old grads, who are nomads, from these abandoned posts;
Does life exist, for the chemist, beyond these holy walls?
No man knoweth, until he goeth, forever from these halls.

Now yonder shade, who has just made, a butt from 'borrowed' smoke,
Is Douglas K., of whom hearsay, reports a merry bloke;
Now up the stairs, to empyreal airs, we climb the real Parnasse,
The aura quiet, a no-smoke.fiat, control the lummox crass.

We enter right, to find bedight, a room with print-out piles,
Here CRYSIS reigns, and saps the brains, of those who try its wiles;
A wild dibbuk, clean run amok, from George the mad programmer,
Who always codes, assembled modes, and cannot ken the clamour.

In binary, speaks ol' Bethge, peripheral device,
His cycle time, can let him mime, a terminal precise;
And Marynick, sits there heartsick, his stereo e-Klipsched,
He still has wine, exceeding thine, but feels apocalypsed.

The PHIRE from hell, broils Brian well, whene'er he turns to CRYMS,
But keep your tears, he has what cheers, the Sunday New York Times;
And Haskell Hart, who will impart, to any patriot, -
"This woman stuff", he growls so gruff, "it's all a commie plot."

G. Eisele, on cola spree, is looking for a pistol,
The camera creeps, the anode beeps, and he has cracked the crystal;
Now standing by, and wondering why, the fellow known as Lou,
The human brain, can't take the strain, of data that won't do.

Ten thousand miles, you find the isles, of Tonga in the sea,
With siren call, they try to haul, Jim from this agony;
He oscillates, but fin'lly states, a truth that is homespun,
"It is not rot, that half a spot, is better far than none."

One must be wise, to crystallize, some new Aspartate Trans-
Carbamylase, so Hugo prays, with several talismans;
He calls the gods, he calls them sods, whene'er no crystals form,
Beneath the blows of fate he knows, it is the awful norm.

Be not distressed, we've not transgressed, the rules of mighty HEW,
We are not churls, there are some girls, among this crazy crew;
Elita P., Yuan Yuan C., have joined the company,
They bring some grace, to this strange place, that saps your sanity.

A special place, in Filbert space, where nuts can operate,
The theoro dwells, in many shells, of convoluted states;
Though time wore on, they still bor-on, towards the great beyond,
Their holy grail, they shall not fail, a no-electron bond.

Without the math, one has no path, among these demi-men,
And so I pause, and leave their cause, to their own denizen;
We have some tea, with Marg'ret G., before the sacred cell,
With words of lore, she guards the door, of W. N. L.

with air benign, and half divine, he oversees them all,
with learned voice, he guides their choice, of wine and wherewithal;
A better serve, a toot with verve, he shows one with aplomb,
And he survives, although he drives, a blue Mercedes bomb.

An amazing man, he always can, locate the pinging pump,
That's out of tune, and very soon, he stops its jarring thump;
The cold room door, will clank no more, it had the coup-de-grace,
He also knows, if someone goes, into his parking place.

A glorious Khan, a Nobel man, a true aristocrat,
His best kudo, will always show, you see his string cravat?
Against the gout, and germs without, and all the fires infernal,
It is a charm, he's safe from harm, a real Kentucky Colonel!

I end this hymn, my eyes are dim, from speaking of these friends.
They were estranged, a bit deranged, from what the Lord intends;
But raise the glass, may they all pass, in joy to their four score,
So fresh so strange, so out of range, the days that are no more.

(The author apologizes to Robert Service)

Brian F. P. Edwards
1969 - 1975

Edwards' Publications with Lipscomb

Honzatko, R. B., Crawford, J. L., Monaco, H. L., Ladner, J. E., Edwards, B. F. P., Evans, D. R., Warren, S. G., Wiley, D. C., Ladner, R. C., & Lipscomb, W. N., "Crystal and molecular structures of native and CTP-liganded aspartate carbamoyltransferase from Escherichia coli," J. Mol. Biol. 160, 219-263 (1983).

Lipscomb, W. N., Edwards, B. F. P., Evans, D. R., & Pastra-Landis, S. C., "Binding Site at 5.5 A Resolution of Cytidine Triphosphate, the Allosteric Inhibitor of Aspartate Transcarbamylase from E. coli. Relation to Mechanism of Control." M. Sundaralingam & S. T. Rao, 4th Annual Harry Steenbock Symposium, Madison, Wisconsin, June 16-19, 1974. Structure and Conformation of Nucleic Acids and Protein-Nucleic Acid Interactions (Baltimore: University Park Press, 1975) pp. 333-350.

Lipscomb, W. N., Evans, D. R., Edwards, B. F. P., Warren, S. G., Pastra-Landis, S. C., & Wiley, D. C., "Three-Dimensional Structures at 5.5 A Resolution and Regulatory Processes in Aspartate Transcarbamylase from E. coli," J Supramolecular Structure 2, 82-99 (1974).

Edwards, B. F. P., Evans, D. R., Warren, S. G., Monaco, H. L., Landfear, S. M., Eisele, G., Crawford, J. L., Wiley, D. C., & Lipscomb, W. N., "Complex of Aspartate Transcarbamoylase from Escherichia coli with its Allosteric Inhibitor, Cytidine Triphosphate: Electron Density at 5.5 A Resolution," Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 71, 4437 (1974).

Warren, S. G., Edwards, B. F. P., Evans, D. R., Wiley, D. C., & Lipscomb, W. N., "Aspartate Transcarbamoylase from E. coli. Electron Density at 5.5 A Resolution," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 70, 1117-1121 (1973).

Evans, D. R., Warren, S. G., Edwards, B. F. P., McMurray, C. H., Bethge, P. H., Wiley, D. C., & Lipscomb, W. N., "The Aqueous Central Cavity in Aspartate Transcarbamylase from E. coli," Science 179, 683 (1973).

Wiley, D. C., Evans, D. R., Warren, S. G., McMurray, C. H., Edwards, B. F. P., Franks, W. A. and Lipscomb, W. N., "The 5.5 A Resolution Structure of the Regulatory Enzyme, Aspartate Transcarbamylase," Cold Spring Harbor Symposium 36, 285-290 (1971).

More Information

Brian Edwards, Wayne State Univ. School of Medicine


5. Russell Grimes.  Pentaborane explosion.

I am happy to have an excuse to write down some remembrances about my early work with the Colonel, before I grow too old and memory fades. As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota in the spring of 1958, trying to decide which professor to work for, I interviewed all the regular inorganic faculty, and Paul O’Connor suggested that I also talk to Lipscomb, who was then head of the physical chemistry division. At the time I had nearly decided to work with Doyle Britton on reactions of HCN, but I did go to see Lipscomb, who said he was looking for someone to do preparative boron hydride chemistry and lent me a copy of Stock's book on boranes, which was even then nearly 30 years old. I was struck by the Lipscombian vitality - his feelings about borane research approximated those of Wernher von Braun on space travel - but I had reservations about working with the reputedly toxic and unpleasant boranes. The choice (I thought) was between HCN, which could kill me instantly, or boranes, which presumably might well do the same only more slowly, and I threw in my lot with Lipscomb and the boranes.

As a synthetic chemist in Lipscomb’s group (the first, I believe), I was surrounded by crystallographers and theoretical types who seemed uneasy around vacuum lines (with good reason, no doubt) and stayed clear of the lab as much as possible. This was especially noticeable after I had managed to convert an entire vacuum system to powdered glass, in a memorable explosion of 30 ml of solid pentaborane on which liquid oxygen had condensed. However, the Colonel's support never wavered and he visited the synthetic labs every day to see what wild ideas were being pursued. I do not recall the Colonel ever ridiculing or dismissing out of hand a proposed reaction or structure - an attitude which profoundly influenced my own view of research, and still does. The Colonel's lab was a constant ferment of ideas and he was rarely too busy to talk chemistry. I still have notes from those days which show that he anticipated things which were to come years later (some day I may donate these to the Smithsonian). I was not as fully aware then as I am now, how fortunate I was tp be a part of that scene, which I shared with others such as Gogi Kodama, Alex Kaczmarczyk, Brian Dickens, Bill Kern, Russ Pitzer, Roald Hoffman, Bruce Penfold, Bill and Kirsten Streib, Herb Beall, Larry Friedman, Fred Wang (I can only hope Fred.has by now forgiven me for the sample of B10H16 I gave him for X-ray study, which erupted in flame as he opened the tube).

The atmosphere in the Colonel's lab was a model of what imaginative fundamental research should be, and I tried to convey the essence of this to the scientific public in my Science article [subscription required] on the Nobel award. Probably the most valuable thing I took with me on leaving his group was a sense of the excitement and wonder of chemistry, something I try to convey to my own students - how successfully, it is hard to say. In any event, I am grateful to have had an association with the Colonel and look forward to seeing him frequently at boron meetings, Like all the past and present Lipscombites, I congratulate the Colonel on his great achievement and wish him well.

Russell N. Grimes
1958-1962

Grimes' Publications with Lipscomb

Grimes, R. N. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Decaborane (16): Its Rearrangement to Decaborane (14) and Cleavage," Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 48, 496-499 (1962).

Grimes, R., Wang, F. E., Lewin, R., and Lipscomb, W. N., "A New Type of Boron Hydride, B10H16,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 47, 996-999 (1961).

More Information

Russell Grimes at the University of Virginia


6. Truman Jordan.  From the fall of man to salvation.  Bill's prodigious ability.

Travels with the Colonel

(Reflections of a Harvard Ph. D. '64)

The Colonel and I both arrived at Harvard at the same time: The fall of 1959. Fortunately for him, his reception was much nicer than mine. While I struggled with qualifying exams and courses, he was setting up his research group. When I joined the group in the fall of 1960, it was already rather large with holdovers from Minnesota - Streib (the elder statesman), Dickens, Grimes, Kern, and Matthews; postdocs - Kodama and Wang; and graduate students from my class - Dobrott, Lohr, Pitzer and Simpson.

The Colonel always said that he didn't criticize a student until they had done at least one thing right. Thus, I set about escaping any sort of criticism for about six months by not doing anything at all that he could recognize. Finally, I did my first crystal structure with H. Warren Smith, and the floodgates were open!! (For both of us!) In those days we had a cyclical theory of working for the Colonel. Everyone started out on the top of his list and fell to the bottom (the Fall of Man). When they worked there way back to the top of his list, they got their Ph.D. (Salvation!) Of course there were some students that existed outside the theory. No one could ever recall Russ Pitzer or Roald Hoffmann falling to the bottom of the list!! But for the rest of us there was always a time when the Colonel would come around, push his glasses back with the thumb and middle finger of his right hand, and say "I‘m a little worried about you." Then you knew you had to get to work. There was no escaping it.

Reminiscing about graduate school days in the early sixties brings back a collage of memories….  Polishing pipe with Bill Streib while working on the low temperature apparatus. Listening to Brian Dickens tell stories of Bill‘s prodigious ability to sleep the clock around. Moving sleeping bags into the lab while taking data on N2, O2, and F2 . The Colonel's parties where he tried to hide his good scotch from Raman. (I‘m not sure he was ever successful!) Chemistry department picnics, especially the one where I struck out the Colonel in a softball game. (You seldom got the best of him in anything, so I do remember that!) Fred Wang struggling to pronounce his l's. He coined (by accident) the second favorite name for the Colonel: Rripscomb .... Bob Dobrott and Paul Simpson explaining the mysteries of the computer. working the Acrostickler with Pete Boer as soon as his latest copy of the Reporter arrived. Blowing soap bubbles out of the third floor Gibbs window with Ruth Lewin. (The record for distance was the bubble that made it all the way to Oxford St.) Starting each day with the New York Times. The day Brian Dickens took his pocket alarm clock to the Colonel's group theory class. It went off at noon and broke up the class. The Colonel had to stop. And the Rinky-Dinky...how could you forget the Rinky-Dinky. It was the kiss of death. The Russians send people to Siberia, and the Colonel assigned people to work on the Rinky-Dinky. I understand the whole lab cheered when they later tried to move it from third floor Gibbs with a crane, and it dropped all three floors by accident! (Providence!)

Yet through it all we learned. Learned that there is no easy way to get good data. Learned that you had to think if you were going to be a good scientist. Learned that you had to be a good chemist if you were going to be a good crystallographer. And we learned it all from a man with a sense of humor. That made it bearable. It made learning fun. And it still is. Thank you.

Truman H. Jordan

Jordan's Publications with Lipscomb

Jordan, T. H., Streib, W. E., and Lipscomb, W. N., "Single-Crystal X-ray Diffraction Study of beta-Fluorine," J. Chem. Phys. 41, 760 (1964).

Jordan, T. H., Smith, H. W., Streib, W. E., and Lipscomb, W. N., "Single-Crystal X-ray Diffraction Studies of alpha-N2 and beta-N2," J. Chem. Phys. 41, 756-759 (1964).

Jordan, T. H., Streib, W. E., Smith, H. W., and Lipscomb, W. N., "Single-crystal Studies of beta-F2 and gamma-O2," Acta Cryst. 17, 777 (1964).

Jordan, T., Smith, H. W., Lohr, L. L., and Lipscomb, W. N., "X-ray Structure Determination of (CH3)2NSO2N(CH3)2 and LCAO-MO Study of Multiple Bonding in Sulfones," J. Am. Chem Soc. 85, 846-851 (1963).

Streib, W. E., Jordan, T. H., and Lipscomb, W. N., "Single-Crystal X-ray Diffraction Study of beta-Nitrogen," J. Chem. Phys. 37, 2962 (1962).

Jordan, T., Smith, W., and Lipscomb, W. N., "(CH3)2NSO2N(CH3)2 as a Model for alpha-Sulfonyl Carbanions,” Tetrahedron Letters No. 2, 37 (1962).

More Information

Truman Jordan, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Cornell


7. Edward Kostansek.  Sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle.

Colonel Lipscomb

Sung with revolutionary sprit

Sung to Yankee Doodle

1.
In M-two-twenty-two I started,
Hou Sen Wong was there.
Chinese tea and three-necked flasks
and friendship we did share.

2.
While we worked there we did come
Upon the revelation,
That the plumbing and the fume hoods
Needed renovation.

3.
Then I moved across the street,
Such peace in which to delve.
The Colonel wondered what I did
Inside McKay five-twelve.

4.
Now I have a job for you",
He said without a snicker.
"Try to keep repaired and clean
The Syntex and the Picker."

5.
Finally a structure came,
The fruit of work and reason.
A mushroom toxin very strong,
Said He, "Are they in season?"

6.
Colonel Lipscomb has the faith,
of Gibbs he is protector.
He'll stand in front of all attacks
From bulldozer and tractor.

7.
Then the Colonel went to Stockholm,
Riding on a borane,
Took his greetings to the King,
And drank his fill of champagne.

8.
Colonel Lipscomb is our leader
For this we are lucky.
He leads his troops, through all the loops,
From Cambridge to Kentucky.

Chorus: Colonel Lipscomb, keep it up,
Colonel Lipscomb Dandy,
Mind the music and the science,
And keep the racquet handy.

Edward C. Kostansek, December 1976
(graduate student 1973-1977)

Kostansic's Publications with Lipscomb

Kostansek, E. C., Thiessen, W. E., Schomburg, D., and Lipscomb, W. N., "Crystal Structure and Molecular Conformation of the Cyclic Hexapeptide cyclo-(Gly-L-Pro-Gly)2," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 101, 5811 (1979).

Kostansek, E. C., Lipscomb, W. N., and Thiessen, W. E., "Crystal Structure and Conformation of the Cyclic Hexapeptide cyclo-(Gly-L-Pro-D-ALa)2," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 101, 834-837 (1979).

Kostansek, E. C., Lipscomb, W. N., Yocum, R. R., and Thiessen, W. E., "The Conformation of the Mushroom Toxin beta-Amanitin in the Crystalline State," Biochemistry 17, 3790 (1978).

Kostansek, E., Lipscomb, W. N., Yocum, R. R., and Thiessen, W. E., "The Crystal Structure of the Mushroom Toxin Beta-Amanitin," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 99, 1273 (1977).

More Information

Edward C. Kostansek is at the Chemistry Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


8. E. Lippert.  Liquid nitrogen on the bus.

OWENS•ILLINOIS

Corporate Technology

January 12, 1977

Dear Colonel:

Besides your being a fine teacher and friend, there are a few memories that I recall from the Minnesota Space Group 23l days that are worth recording:

How Dick Dickerson and I used up most of the Universities' 500 free hours on the ERA 1103 computer.

The argument with the University about painting the darkroom black.

The problems of transporting large Dewars of liquid nitrogen and how small quantities were carried on the bus, much to the consternation of the passengers.

The "hot" keys to the stockroom which we both had.

When the start of data collection on B6H10 was delayed because the liquid nitrogen was decidedly blue and how the second data collection effort was terminated when an assistant fell down the stairs one night.

The Friday afternoon meetings with the beer and limericks.

I should also remark that footnote 3, J. Chem. Phys. 25,606-7l (l956) has been dutifully noted by The Stormy Petrels of Maumee Bay.

Sincerely,

E. L. Lippert, Jr. Ph.D. (l955-56)
Chief, Evaluation & Testing Section

ELL/nj

Lippert's Publications with Lipscomb

Lipscomb, W. N., Wang, F. E., May, W. R. and Lippert, E. L., "Comments on the Structures of 1,2-dichloroethane and of N2O2," Acta Cryst. 14, 1100 (1961).

Hirshfeld, F. L., Eriks, K., Dickerson, R. E., Lippert, E. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular and Crystal Structure of B6H10,” J. Chem. Phys. 28, 56 (1958).

Lippert, E. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "The Structure of H3NBH3,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 78, 503 (1956).


9. Lawrence Lohr.  "Where is the inorganic Woodward?"

My Years with the Colonel

1959 – 1963

The Colonel and I both came to Harvard in the Fall of 1959, he as a new Professor from the University of Minnesota and I as a new graduate student from the University of North Carolina. I had counted on doing research in inorganic chemistry only to discover that Harvard had few “official” inorganic chemists! Needless to say, I was delighted that the Colonel had arrived, as his interests spanned both inorganic and physical. Before my first year was over I not only had completed the course requirements but also had spent a week at Penn State learning about boron halides from Professor Thomas Wartik and five weeks at Uppsala, Sweden, learning about quantum chemistry from Professor Per-Olov Lowdin and his associates in their famous summer course and symposium. Returning to Harvard for my second year, I had my last “fling” at crystallography by refining the structural data for iodine heptafluoride. After that my studies consisted of theoretical studies of various inorganic compounds, with emphasis on transition metal complexes. At one point the theoretical “sub-group" sharing an office consisted of the Harvard students Hoffmann, Lohr, Stevens, and Pitzer (plus Kern who was a "refugee" from Minnesota}; computer output invariably bore the masthead ”Harvard Laboratory of Structural Properties“, or HLSP, standing possibly for ourselves, or better, for the quantum chemistry pioneers Heitler, London, Slater, and Pauling. As we all know, the Colonel was not only readily available for questions, but often sought us out to listen to his new ideas. Several times, usually late at night, he asked my opinion about various potential Nobel Laureates, particularly in the area of inorganic chemistry! ”Where is the inorganic Woodward?", he would ask. Now he knows the answer! Congratulations.

Lawrence L. Lohr. Jr.
Professor of Chemistry
University of Michigan
Ann arbor, MI 48104

Lohr's Publications with Lipscomb

Lohr, L. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "An LCAO-MO Study of Rare-Gas Fluorides," in Noble-Gas Compounds. Ed. H. H. Hyman, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963) 347-353.

Lohr, L. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "LCAO-MO Charge Distribution and Proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Shifts in Transition Metal Hydride Complexes," Inorg. Chem. 3, 22-26 (1964).

Lohr, L. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "An LCAO-MO Study of Static Distortions of Transition Metal Complexes," Inorg. Chem. 2, 911-917 (1963).

Lohr, L. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular Orbital Theory of Spectra of Cr3+ Ions in Crystals," J. Chem. Phys. 38, 1607-1612 (1963).

Jordan, T., Smith, H. W., Lohr, L. L., and Lipscomb, W. N., "X-ray Structure Determination of (CH3)2NSO2N(CH3)2 and LCAO-MO Study of Multiple Bonding in Sulfones," J. Am. Chem Soc. 85, 846-851 (1963).

Lohr, L. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular Symmetry of XeF2 and XeF4," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 85, 240 (1963).

Lohr, L. L. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular Symmetry of IF7," J. Chem. Phys. 36, 2225 (1962).

Moore, E. B., Lohr, L. L., and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular Orbitals in Some Boron Compounds,” J. Chem. Phys. 35, 1329 (1961).

More Information

Lawrence Lohr at the University of Michigan

Robert Woodward Wikipedia page, organic chemist, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1965.


10. Lillian MacVey.  Young Billy swinging from the chandelier.

December 28, 1976
2440 S. Barrington
Los Angelei, California 90064

Dr. william Lipscomb
Department of Chemistry
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
 
Dear Dr. Lipscomb:
(a.k.a. “little ole ornery red-headed Billy Lipscomb")

Congratulations on the Nobel Surprise! (Accordingly to the L.A. Times it was indeed a surprise to you, thereby attesting to your modisty.)

When you were a small child, I recognized your intelligence, your "creativity" (if almost blowing up the house, and other such antics could qualify at creativity), and your potential. The only thing that is a surprise about "The Prize" is that you ever grew up to receive it. On second thought I’m surprised that I'm still here to write this note.

You may not remember that as a young child I was "importuned” -- I believe the word is used properly -- to "babysit" with you and your younger sisters. What in heaven’s name possessed our respective mothers to allow such a haphazard arrangement?! (You'd better censor that last remark in view of the fact that our respective mothers are still good friends and I want it to remain that way.)

I remember once climbing up on the dining room table and pulling you down from the chandelier, from which you were merrily swinging, at the same time trying to attend to your baby sister’s urgent need (diapers, bottle -- who knows?). Helen was an innocent bystander probably minding her own business but possibly wondering what was going on between her younger and older siblings and the inadequate babysitter from across the street.

(Personal family section omitted. -James Lipscomb)

From your friendly, neighborhood former baby sitter.

Lillian Holmes MacVey

P.S. I was shocked to see my former charge on the front page of the L.A. Times (considered one of the best newspapers in the Country) drinking champagne. Tsk, tsk, Billy Lipscomb.


11. Sheldon Shore.  "With the possible exception of myself...."

Western Union Mailgram

SHELDON SHORE
81 BREVOORT RD
COLUMBUS OH 43214

PROFESSOR W N LIPSCOMB, CARE DEPT OF
CHEMISTRY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY
CAMBRIDGE MA 02158

DEAR BILL,

WITH POSSIBLE EXCEPTION OF MYSELF, I CAN THINK OF NO MORE DESERVING RECIPIENT OF THE NOBEL PRIZE THAN YOU.

CONGRATULATIONS

SHELDON

15:10 EST

Shore's Publication with Lipscomb

Li H, Min D, Shore SG, Lipscomb WN, Yang W. Nature of "hydrogen bond" in the diborane-benzene complex: covalent, electrostatic, or dispersive?  Inorg Chem. 2007 May 14;46(10):3956-9. (PubMed)

More Information

Sheldon Shore in memoriam April 4, 2014


12. Andrew Szent-Gyorgyi.  50,000 cans of tennis balls.

Brandeis University
Waltham, Massachusetts 02154

October 19, 1976

Dr. William Lipscomb
26 Woodfall Road
Belmont, Massachusetts 02178

Dear Bill:

Congratulations and best wishes! That is a delightful event!

Quick calculations show that now you have funds for 50,000 cans of tennis balls or 2000 tennis rackets or 75 silver flutes.

Decisions. . .decisions. . .decisions

with best regards,

Yours sincerely,

Andrew G. Szent-Gyorgyi

More Information

Andrew Szent-Gyorgyi at Brandeis Univ.


13. Donald Voet.  The great air rifle caper.

The Great Air Rifle Caper

In the spring of 1963, on the day that Russ Pitzer passed his oral, Dick Enrione's vacuum line developed a crack. The B5H9 that was being kept in the line at liquid N2 temperatures thereby combined with liquid O2 to form a highly sensitive and explosive compound. The question was not whether the compound would explode, but when. After waiting for several hours everyone grew tired of sitting on a bomb (Pitzer's party was to begin soon) so Enrione tried to remove the offending flask to the roof of Gibbs lab. As soon as he touched it, it exploded with a terrific blast leaving Enrione, as always, completely unscathed.

This train of events started Colonel Lipscomb thinking about the problems of sitting on a bomb. Surely something like Enrione's experience would sooner or later happen again. But it would be doubtful that the victim would have Enrione's luck with explosions (Enrione was never even scratched in the half dozen or so explosions he had, often almost in his hands, during his stay in the lab). At the same time one couldn't wait forever for a bomb to go off. Yet one couldn't throw rocks at the offending flask in a laboratory full of glassware. Aha, why not shoot at it with an air rifle. That would surgically preempt the explosion.

So Colonel went out and bought an air rifle (how he explained this expense to the NSF has never been related). But of course all-experimental techniques need testing in order to perfect them. Thus Colonel found a laboratory that had several bulbs of unknown but suspect material in them which had been left behind by F.G.A. Stone. Enter Jimmy Lipscomb, then about age 12. In simpler times I suppose Colonel would have taught him to hunt 'possum and such. But now they were after bigger game. Jimmy stationed himself behind some shielding and fired away. There were several satisfying roars in answer. The test was then pronounced a complete success and the air rifle was installed as an item of important safety equipment.

Several months later Enrione departed for the greener pastures of the University of Syracuse. He left behind two suspect bulbs on his vacuum rack with instructions to dispose of them on the roof in the usual fashion by throwing bricks at them. But this was a golden opportunity to demonstrate the air rifle technique of bomb disposal under actual battle conditions. Out came Jimmy and the air rifle. Once more barricading himself he blazed away at the offending bulbs. The first one shattered but with no explosion. Then he hit the second bulb but it didn't break. Pausing to reload, Jimmy took aim at the bulb once more.

But what was that flood on the floor? Could it be? Yes, it could. Jimmy's shot had ricocheted off the bulb into a nearby glass diffusion pump, thereby shattering its water jacket. The result of this was that several gallons of water cascaded onto the floor before the water could be turned off. Oh well, back to the drawing boards. And the air rifle disappeared into C0lonel's office, never to be seen again.

Donald Voet

Voet's Publications with Lipscomb

Voet, D. and Lipscomb, W. N., “Molecular and Crystal Structure of B7C2H11(CH3)2," Inorg. Chem. 6, 113-119 (1967).

Voet, D. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular Structure of Carboranes. A 1,2-Dicarbaclovododecaborane Derivative, B10H10(CCH2Br)2," Inorg. Chem. 3, 1679 (1964).

More Information

Wikepedia page about Donald Voet

Donald Voet at the Univ. of PA


14. Frederick Wang.  Convincing Bill to knock on the darkroom door.

It was in the early Summer of 1960, at a young post-doc, that I arrived at the Harvard campus and joined Lipscomb’s group. Before long I noticed the Colonel’s habit of strolling by my desk and sticking his head over my shoulder and inquiring about the progress of my work. I was bit annoyed by the frequency of such occurrences and sometimes replied by saying “When I've got the results I will let you know!." During the Summer of 1961, the Colonel had just returned from his vacation on the west coast and once more he strolled by and as usual stuck his head in. Oniy this time he said, "How did you enjoy my vacation?."

Up on the third floor of Gibb's laboratory, between offices on one side and the X-nay equipment room on the other side, there existed a small darkroom for developing film. I often developed X-ray film in that small room. The only hazard was that invariably the Colonel would walk through the darkroom without knocking on the door to see if anyone was using the darkroom first - at far at I could recall the Colonel was the only one did this among the whole group! Of course, as a result, the half-developed film was totally darkened and could not be used to identify the crystal symmetry. I called the Colonel's attention to this misdemeanor of his, a number of times, in vain. Now, the Colonel is a great enthusiast when it comet to the game of guessing the molecular structure by knowing only the symmetry. In response to his inquiry about a particular crystal under investigation, I showed him the darkened film instead, for him to figure out the symmetry. Staring at the darkened film, he meekly said, "Did I do that?.” At far at I know, he has stopped this misdemeanor completely since.

Frederick E. Wang
1960 - 1962

Wang's Publications with Lipscomb

Wang, F. E., Simpson, P. G., and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular Structure of B9H13(CH3CN)," J. Chem. Phys. 35, 1335 (1961).

Lipscomb, W. N., Wang, F. E., May, W. R., and Lippert, E. L., "Comments on the Structures of 1,2-dichloroethane and of N2O2," Acta Cryst. 14, 1100 (1961).

Grimes, R., Wang, F. E., Lewin, R., and Lipscomb, W. N., "A New Type of Boron Hydride, B10H16,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 47, 996-999 (1961).

Wang, F. E., Simpson, P. G., and Simpson, W. N., "Molecular Structure of B9H13NCCH3,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 83, 491 (1961).

More Information

Frederick E. Wang at Innovative Technology International, Inc.

Book: Bonding Theory for Metals and Alloys by Frederick E. Wang


15. Steve Warren.  Surprise on the plane.

By lucky chance, I was able to hear about the Colonel's Nobel festivities even before he returned to Harvard from Stockholm.

Last month I was in Germany, finishing up work on building the atomic model of Tobacco Mosaic Virus. It was six weeks of concentrated work, and on the return flight from Zurich to Boston I was still thinking about nothing but TMV.
 .
I was worn out, unshaven and unwashed. I had just barely caught the plane, having overslept after a final late night with the model. I was desperately searching for an unoccupied toilet over the Atlantic, passing through the corridors of the jumbo-jet, when to my astonishment
I was suddenly face-to-face with the Colonel. [Needless to say, he was in fine form as usual, with his careful choice of air routes and his advance planning to minimize jet-lag.]

Well, this was certainly unexpected, and for an embarrassing minute I couldn't even recall why the Colonel should have been in Europe. I was so totally wrapped up in my own work that even when he mentioned that he had been in Stockholm, it didn't ring a bell. I was thinking, "Now, what lab might he have been visiting in Stockholm?"

Of course, eventually I came to my senses, and the rest of the flight was most enjoyable indeed. [I did later find that toilet.] Jim and Mary Adele had come along, and Jim showed me his snapshots of the festivities in Stockholm. The Colonel showed me his award certificate and even let me hold his solid-gold medal. And it was a fine opportunity for me to spout off about TMV.

I doubt that anyone else on that plane ever suspected that a Nobel Prize-winner was on board.

15 January 1977

Steve Warren. (1968 – 1973)

Warren's Publications with Lipscomb

Honzatko, R. B., Crawford, J. L., Monaco, H. L., Ladner, J. E., Edwards, B. F. P., Evans, D. R., Warren, S. G., Wiley, D. C., Ladner, R. C., & Lipscomb, W. N., "Crystal and molecular structures of native and CTP-liganded aspartate carbamoyltransferase from Escherichia coli," J. Mol. Biol. 160, 219-263 (1983).

Lipscomb, W. N., Evans, D. R., Edwards, B. F. P., Warren, S. G., Pastra-Landis, S. C., & Wiley, D. C., "Three-Dimensional Structures at 5.5 A Resolution and Regulatory Processes in Aspartate Transcarbamylase from E. coli," J Supramolecular Structure 2, 82-99 (1974).

Edwards, B. F. P., Evans, D. R., Warren, S. G., Monaco, H. L., Landfear, S. M., Eisele, G., Crawford, J. L., Wiley, D. C., & Lipscomb, W. N., "Complex of Aspartate Transcarbamoylase from Escherichia coli with its Allosteric Inhibitor, Cytidine Triphosphate: Electron Density at 5.5 A Resolution," Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 71, 4437 (1974).

Warren, S. G., Edwards, B. F. P., Evans, D. R., Wiley, D. C., & Lipscomb, W. N., "Aspartate Transcarbamoylase from E. coli. Electron Density at 5.5 A Resolution," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 70, 1117-1121 (1973).

Evans, D. R., Warren, S. G., Edwards, B. F. P., McMurray, C. H., Bethge, P. H., Wiley, D. C., & Lipscomb, W. N., "The Aqueous Central Cavity in Aspartate Transcarbamylase from E. coli," Science 179, 683 (1973).

Wiley, D. C., Evans, D. R., Warren, S. G., McMurray, C. H., Edwards, B. F. P., Franks, W. A. and Lipscomb, W. N., "The 5.5 A Resolution Structure of the Regulatory Enzyme, Aspartate Transcarbamylase," Cold Spring Harbor Symposium 36, 285-290 (1971).

More Information

Steve Warren, Univ. of Washington


16. Peter J. Wheatley.  All-purpose congratulatory letter.

All-purpose Congratulatory Letter (Patent applied for).

(Science format)

Date as postmark.

Dear Bill,

Congratulations on your

___ elevation to the peerage.
_x_ Nobel prize.
___ knighthood.
___ FRS.
___ OM / CBE / OBE / MBE (other .......... ).
___ acquittal on the rape / bigamy / indecent exposure / theft / drugs / drunken driving / (other ............................ ) charge.
___ Honorary degree from Harvard / the Sorbonne / Oxford / Battersea Polytechnic / (other ............................ ).
___ defeat of H. M. Inspector of Taxes.
___ engagement / marriage / divorce.
___ quintu / quadru / tri / di / uni / plet(s).
_x_ highly successful party, which you will no doubt be holding.

Yours obediently / faithfully / sincerely,


P(eter) J(affray) Wheatley


Tick, delete, insert and modify as appropriate.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reply form: Tear off.

___ I earned it
___ I was lucky
___ I couldn't have done it without your help
___ My wife was delighted
___ Thank you
___ Get stuffed

Signed  ...............................................................


Wheatley's Publications with Lipscomb

Dickerson, R. E., Wheatley, P. J., Howell, P. A. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Crystal and Molecular Structure of B9H15," J. Chem. Phys. 27, 200 (1957).

Atoji, M., Wheatley, P. J. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Crystal and Molecular Structure of Diboron Tetrachloride B2Cl4," J. Chem. Phys. 27, 196 (1957).

Dickerson, R. E., Wheatley, P. J., Howell, P. A., Lipscomb, W. N. and Schaeffer, R., "Boron Arrangement in a B9 Hydride," J. Chem. Phys. 25, 606 (1956).

Atoji, M., Lipscomb, W. N. and Wheatley, P. I., "Molecular Structure of Diborane Tetrachloride, B2Cl4," J. Chem. Phys. 23, 1176 (1955).

More Information

Wikipedia page about Wheatley.



-- 2009, last updated Aug. 2015,  James is here        Home page http://wlipscomb.tripod.com/


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From a scrapbook assembled by Bill's first wife, Marydell Lipscomb in 1976-1977 these congratulatory letters are presented with permission of William Lipscomb.  Insofar as this transcription from image to text is an owned, new, or derived work, work on this page (text) is by http://wlipscomb.tripod.com and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. You are free to copy, distribute, transmit, and modify the work for both commercial and non-commercial uses. You must attribute the work to website http://wlipscomb.tripod.com

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