Field of Science

Woodward on how to travel incognito

Searching aimlessly for material on R. B. Woodward online, I came across an amusing source: "Droll Science" by Robert Weber. In it I found the following droll anecdote:

At the Munich (1955) meeting of the Gesellschaft deutscher Chemiker, Woodward attracted attention as he roamed the halls carrying a big notebook in a blue silk cover on which was embroidered the structural formula of strychnine. The next day he appeared bearing a cover innocent of any embroidery. Asked a friend, "Why no structural formula?" Quipped Woodward, "Oh, I'm traveling incognito today."

The anecdote probably says more about the man than it intends to: Woodward's identity was inextricably linked to the objects of his creation, and without them, he could indeed pronounce himself incognito.

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