Porter, George, Baron Porter of Luddenham

Porter, George, Baron Porter of Luddenham, 1920–2002, British chemist, b. Stainforth, England, grad. Leeds Univ., Ph.D. Cambridge, 1949. After serving as a radar officer during World War II, he did postgraduate research with R. G. W. Norrish at Cambridge. His first problem involved the study, using flow techniques, of free radicals produced in gaseous photochemical reactions. Drawing upon his wartime experience, Porter subsequently conceived the idea of using pulses of light of shorter duration than the lifetime of the free radicals to study those molecules, and constructed an apparatus that he and Norrish applied to the study of gaseous free radicals and of combustion. Their collaboration continued until 1954 when Porter left Cambridge for the Univ. Porter and Norrish shared the 1967 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with German physical chemist Manfred Eigen for their studies of extremely fast chemical reactions. Porter was cited in particular for his work on photochemistry (chemical reactions triggered by light) and flash photolysis (photographing the behavior of molecules during chemical reactions). Porter also excelled presenting complex scientific subjects to the general public, and his BBC broadcasts in the 1960s on “The Laws of Disorder” were very popular. From 1985 to 1990 he was president of the Royal Society. He was knighted in 1972 and was created a life peer in 1990.

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