Enough for One Lifetime: Wallace Carothers, Inventor of Nylon
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.
A Gathering of Seven Friends
A Second Superb Idea
At the Philadelphia Institute
In the Alps with Carothers
Isobel Carothers Dies
Wallace Carothers Swallows Cyanide and Dies
DuPont and Ira Carothers
A Synthetic Rubber and a Synthetic Silk Enough for One Lifetime
1932 Looks Pretty Black to Me Just Now
A Struggle Over Research Objectives
The Invention of Nylon
A Year at Wawaset Park
What Is the Family Illness?
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