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Edgar Bright Wilson
Born December 18, 1908(1908-12-18)
Gallatin, Tennessee, USA
Died June 12, 1992 (aged 83)
Nationality American
Fields Chemist
Institutions Harvard University
Doctoral advisor Linus Pauling
Doctoral students Dudley Herschbach
Robert Karplus

Edgar Bright Wilson, Jr. was born on December 18, 1908 in Gallatin, Tennessee, and died in 1992.

Wilson was a prominent and accomplished chemist and teacher, recipient of the National Medal of Science in 1975, Guggenheim Fellowships in 1949 and 1970, and a number of honorary doctorates. He was also the Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus at Harvard University. One of his sons, Kenneth G. Wilson, was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1982. Wilson was a student and protege of Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling and was a coauthor with Pauling of Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, a graduate level textbook in Quantum Mechanics. Wilson was also the thesis advisor of Nobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach. Wilson was elected to the first class of the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Wilson made major contributions to the field of Molecular Spectroscopy. He developed the first rigorous quantum mechanical Hamiltonian in internal coordinates for a polyatomic molecule. He developed the theory of how rotational spectra are influenced by centrifugal distortion during rotation. He pioneered the use of group theory for the analysis and simplification normal mode analysis, particularly for high symmetry molecules, such as benzene. In 1955, with J.C. Decius and Paul C. Cross, Wilson published Molecular Vibrations, still the primary reference text for the theoretical analysis of vibrational spectroscopy, including the GF matrix method that Wilson had developed. Following the second world war, Wilson was a pioneer in the application of microwave spectroscopy to the determination of molecular structure. Wilson wrote a influential introductory text Introduction to Scientific Research that provided an introduction of all the steps of scientific research, from defining a problem through the archival of data after publication.

Starting in 1997, the American Chemical Society has annually awarded the E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy, named in honor of Wilson.

External links


  • Roy Gordon; Dudley Herschbach; William Klemperer; Frank Westheimer (1995). "Biographical Memoirs: E. Bright Wilson, Jr. (18 December 1908-12 July 1992)". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 139 (3): 312–315.  
  • Linus Pauling and E. Bright Wilson, Jr., Introduction to Quantum Mechanics With Applications to Chemistry, (1935). Introduction to Quantum Mechanics With Applications to Chemistry. Dover Books, New York.  


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