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Michael Polanyi and His GenerationOrigins of the Social Construction of Science$
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Mary Jo Nye

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226610634

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226610658.001.0001

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Chemical Dynamics and Social Dynamics in Berlin and Manchester

Chemical Dynamics and Social Dynamics in Berlin and Manchester

(p.113) FOUR Chemical Dynamics and Social Dynamics in Berlin and Manchester
Michael Polanyi and His Generation

Mary Jo Nye

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on the collaborative work between Polanyi and Eyring, which made an enduring contribution in defining and defending the use of the “semi-empirical method” in theoretical chemistry, which synthesized kinetic theory and thermodynamics with quantum mechanics and the theory of the electron–valence bond. Michael Polanyi is best known and revered among chemists and physicists for his theoretical and experimental work in chemical kinetics and dynamics, especially his development of the theory of the “transition state.” Polanyi, Eyring, and Eugene Wigner together are recognized by chemists today as the founders of the field of modern chemical dynamics. The following sections discuss Polanyi and Eyring's work, its reception, and its implications in theoretical chemistry, along with Polanyi's career transition from Berlin to Manchester and his earliest philosophical paper at Manchester, on the role of the inexact in science, in 1936.

Keywords:   Michael Polanyi, Eyring, semi-empirical method, theoretical chemistry, kinetic theory, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, electron–valence bond, transition state, Eugene Wigner

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