I'm glad to see where George Pimentel's widow is working up a biographical website.  There's some suggestion he avoided the A-bomb project by enlisting in the USN.  Here's my favourite glimpse of this ace researcher & teacher.
        Note the contrast with insecure aggressive obscurities like C H Pine who brazenly refuse to read anything from whole directions of scholarship or from individual scientists who refuse to grovel to her PC bullyess insolence.



                        THE  IDEAS  MAN

        The 2-credit weekly phys chem grad seminar featured, one week in 1965, one of George Pimentel's men about to graduate Ph.D (and depart for Sandia chemical laser development).  He opened by mentioning in passing that he'd begun his research when George was seeking direct evidence of the methyl radical in low-pressure gases, but then had switched to the chemical laser when George invented it.  The bulk of the seminar was about the chemical laser he'd made for his Ph.D, but when question time came around a grad student from New Zealand asked "Now that you've made much longer path lengths, and other improvements to sensitivity in your spectrometer, why not renew your search for the methyl radical?"  The speaker looked interested, but before he could say more than a few words George jumped up from the front row and animatedly grabbed the chalk to explore the scope for this idea  -  renewing an old affair, one might say, thinking on his feet.
        What struck me about this reaction was that George didn't care from what rank the idea had emerged; it was an interesting idea towards his research, and he pursued it immediately, in a preliminary scoping discussion.  He cared not whether the idea had been stated by some obscure student he'd not met.  It was the ideas, not the status of the person through whom they happened to surface, that mattered to George.
        I contrasted this with the verbatim record I'd previoiusly stumbled upon in my alma mater library, I think in Proc R. S., a formal lecture plus discussion session by Sir Christopher Kelk Ingold (originator of a main theory on kinetics in organic solutions).  During the discussion after presentation of the paper, an obscure undergrad had posed a question which implied - as politely as could be  -  a  flaw in what Ingold had said.  The U. Lond. Professor's response was largely ad hominem, suggesting that the status of the questioner was an excuse not to deal with the question.
        I had been shocked, and not at all awed, by this attack on the scientific search for truth in which it is the ideas that are to contend, not the persons.  Every scientist has a first encounter with the more complex reality of contending emotions, bully personalities such as Crick, power-plays for funding, etc; and this had been mine, while still doing my M.Sc.   Sad to say, I've encountered all too many examples since returning to my homeland at the end of the 1960s of insecure profs who never really arrived as top scientists like George had done.  Those who have truly earned rank by peer approval tend to be less defensive and more willing to deal with ideas rather than personalities.  One of the privileges of studying at UCB for the latter half of the 1960s was knowing top profs like George who weren't trying to shore up ill-justified rank by putting down others.  Scholars like George are at ease in their positions because they know they earned them, and they are primarily interested in ideas, not personalities, in their contributing to science.  An ideas man like George is rare in NZ universities.  I cherish his memory, and have told this story countless times to illustrate the virtue of the ideas man as against the power-player, the gender campaigner, ambitious struggler, or mere aggressive drongo.  George Pimentel was an ideas man.  He was also a very cordial, supportive leader of research which, had he not devoted himself so magnificently to teaching and other services to science, could well have won him a Nobel prize.  George was instrumental in the sharp improvement in HS chem texts  -  remember the candle on the 1963 cover?  -  in response to sputnik.  I have always admired him more than the narrow ambitious researchers who concentrate on their research career while contributing little to teaching or other professional services.

                        ==========================

                If they've been digitized, a librarian might search Proc R S  and Proc Faraday Soc, we might get the exact ref for that Ingold event.  A real student might, failing that, search the journals.  (I recommend a taste of that experience.)  The date I can't recall more precisely than 1937-52.
        Many bullying utterances by Crick show his suppressive nature which held up & warped mol biol for a similar period.  I'm sure most scientists can think of their own observed cases.
        This note focusses on Geo's model conduct of research, but I want to mention also that he was an all-round good guy who would intone across Candlestick Park at visiting batters stepping up against the 49ers: "cissy stick".  If you can augment the website please get in touch:

-- 
L. R. B. Mann
applied ecology
P O Box 28878  Remuera, Auckland 1541, New Zealand
(9) 524 2949
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