Field of Science

The passing of Gossypium extraordinarium

Whenever I hear the name "cotton", the first thing that comes to my mind is "...and wilkinson". The second thing, apart from the cotton we all love to wear, is the dreaded group theory, for which Cotton's again was the pioneering text.

I could never really make sense of group theory. But today, the author of my (and millions of others') favourite advanced inorganic textbook has passed into history, and I regret his loss along with everyone else.

"Cotton and Wilkinson" has the same relation to its discipline as "Samuelson" and "The Feynman Lectures on Physics" have to theirs. Cotton was a truly prolific chemist. I am not qualified to judge whether his discovery of metal-metal quadruple bonds merits a Nobel or not, but I suspect that he would more than deserve a Coreyesque lifetime achievement prize. His output, honours, and contributions to research and teaching are immense. F. Albert Cotton, RA (Rest Assured) rather than RIP. Your legacy will live. My dog-eared copy of "C & W" and thousands of others bear witness to that.

P.S. Since we are on the topic, I have to say that my all-time favourite descriptive introductory inorganic text is J D Lee's "Concise Inorganic Chemistry", an affair that dates back to early college days. The book is so engaging and informative that it makes for great bedtime reading. For a more advanced treatment, I also love Huheey.

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