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Fields & Applications Gas Chromatography, Liquid Chromatography, Preparative/Process Chromatography, Chemical, Pharma & Biopharma

Pursuing the Preparative

Teaser of Sitting Down With

How did you become an analytical chemist?

It’s a strange story. In 1955, after I had graduated with an MS degree in engineering, a professor at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris offered me a teaching assistant position. I was assigned to study the instability of ammonium nitrate, which had caused several disastrous explosions. About a year into the project, we were visited by a man who was received with respect by the professor. He told us that he thought the hoists on the boats unloading bags of ammonium nitrate were somehow catalyzing the transmutation of nitrogen into CO, and wanted us to study it. When he left I told my boss that it was a crazy idea. “You are right,” he said, “but he is the son-in-law of the Prime Minister. You want a gas chromatograph to analyze the decomposition gasses of ammonium nitrate? Well, this is a way to get it!” He contacted the prime minister’s office – this was in 1956, when there was very little money for scientific research – and within two weeks we had a beautiful PerkinElmer chromatograph. A year later we submitted a report showing that no CO was formed in the decomposition of ammonium nitrate. This drew an irrascible phone call from the government office informing us that the prime minister had changed and they had no interest in it. End of story. But it got me started in gas chromatography.

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About the Author

Richard Gallagher

Richard Gallagher is no stranger to quality, style or credibility. With Science, Nature and The Scientist all under his editorial belt, Richard teamed up with two good friends to form Texere Publishing, a new company with a great deal of know-how. Richard's also no stranger to contention: "You've constantly got to have an eye out for an editorial subject that will really stir the pot. We're aiming to be always relevant, but never predictable. About The Analytical Scientist, he says, Our vision is to capture commitment and success in analytical science in very particular way: by telling stories. Getting it right is an enormous, exciting challenge. Like so many professionals in the analytical sciences, we'll be thinking it, dreaming it and living it every day.

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