Wallace Hume Carothers - Term Paper

Essay by plee142University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

download word file, 13 pages 5.0

Wallace Hume Carothers (1896-1937)

        This is an essay about Wallace Carothers who was an American chemist born in Burlington, Iowa. He was born the same year that August Kekulé died and Staudinger was a Gymnasium student in Worms. He was born into a high Presbyterian family of Scottish descent. All his ancestors were either farmers or artisans. In 1924 he received his doctorate at the University of Illinois. He then taught organic chemistry there, and later on at Harvard. In 1928 he was made head of the organic chemistry research group at DuPont. His work there on compounds of high molecular weight led to the discovery of the first synthetic rubber, neoprene. He also worked with the physical and chemical properties of polyamides, showing that these compounds could be melt and spun into fibers. This work resulted in his discoveries of nylon andneoprene. He became the first organic chemist to be elected into the National Academy of Sciences.

His work was also largely responsible for the emergence of macromolecular chemistry in America. However, through all his success's he struggled with depression. Early in 1937 his favorite sister suddenly died. He never recovered from the loss, and in April of that year he committed suicide through poison.

        Wallace Carothers was the oldest of four siblings, two sons and two daughters. Isobel Carothers, his favorite sister became a radio star as part of a musical trio. His father, Ira Carothers, was a teacher and administrator at Capital City Commercial College. All four children began their higher education at Capital City. After high school the shy and quiet Wallace Carothers enrolled at his father's college to learn shorthand and bookkeeping. Wallace was then sent by his father to Tarkio College in Missouri to help Tarkio's own lagging Commercial Department. Wallace went submissively to...