Enough for One Lifetime: Wallace Carothers, Inventor of Nylon

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Chemical Heritage Foundation, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 345 pages
This is a story of invention and chemistry and the ineluctable fate of the inventor of nylon. Wallace Carothers was hired by DuPont in 1928 to lead a program called basic research. Carothers brought a passion to his work, and wanted to synthesize large molecules that would challenge Emil Fischer's largest molecule of 4200 molecular weight. In a burst of creativity in the spring of 1930, Carothers gave us our first truly synthetic rubber and fiber. The rubber quickly became neoprene; the fiber, in time, led to nylon. Carothers took an infant science called polymer chemistry, defined it, and guided it toward its present maturity. He gave us condensation polymerization. Hermes tells Carothers' story - his sudden, dramatic research successes and his relentless slide into depression, alcohol, and suicide - through Carothers' revealing letters to his professional colleagues (Roger Adams, C. S. Marvel, John R. Johnson) and his family and college classmates. At the end, Carothers' habit was to hide himself from his co-workers and friends. Hermes' narrative searches for the shrouded heart of the inventor's story by using stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald and other contemporaries as parables from which Carothers' truth may be drawn.
 

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It is very boring

Contents

Tarkio College
At Urbana the Best of the Best
19
Paris and Harvard
43
The Road to Pure Science
57
DuPont Hires Carothers
73
Arrow of Discovery
87
We Will Have Quite a Lot of Things in My Division To Show You
101
Elmer Boltons Chemical Department
119
A Gathering of Seven Friends
225
A Second Superb Idea
233
Carothers Marries
247
At the Philadelphia Institute
257
In the Alps with Carothers
269
Isobel Carothers Dies
277
Wallace Carothers Swallows Cyanide and Dies
283
DuPont and Ira Carothers
293

A Synthetic Rubber and a Synthetic Silk Enough for One Lifetime
133
1932 Looks Pretty Black to Me Just Now
143
A Struggle Over Research Objectives
155
The Invention of Nylon
179
Carothers Disappears
189
A Year at Wawaset Park
209
What Is the Family Illness?
307
Chemistry Cited
319
Acknowledgments
325
Bibliography
329
Index
335
Copyright

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