August 14, 1907–October 11, 1997
BY F. H. WESTHEIMER
PAUL D. BARTLETT was one of the great chemists of the twentieth century. His research and teaching were in the area of physical-organic chemistry, and he dominated that field for perhaps four decades. He wasn't old enough to be among the earliest practitioners; that honor is shared among Arthur Lapworth, A. Hantzsch, C. K. Ingold, and L. P. Hammett. But Bartlett created a school of physical-organic chemistry that sparked a revolution in the way organic chemistry is taught and practiced throughout the world. Physical-organic chemistry is concerned with the mechanisms of reaction in organic chemistry and with the properties of organic chemicals. Today, syntheses are designed on the basis of theory, and the theoretical implications and stereochemistry of each step in any complete synthesis are carefully considered, so that the dichotomy of theory and practice is happily fading into the past. No one can contemplate the elegant chemistry of any of the great masters of synthesis today without realizing that the enormous effi-
Reprinted with permission from the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 142(3):September 1998.