K. Barry Sharpless
is an American chemist renowned for his work on organometallic chemistry. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001.
- We have a word game in English called "Twenty questions." To play Twenty Questions, one player imagines some object, and the other players must guess what it is by asking questions that can be answered with a "yes" or a "no." I imagine every language has a similar game, and, for those of us who speak the language of science, the game is called The Scientific Method.
- Nobel Banquet speech, 2001
- ...when I started doing chemistry, I did it the way I fished – for the excitement, the discovery, the adventure, for going after the most elusive catch imaginable in uncharted seas.
- Chemists usually write about their chemical careers in terms of the different areas and the discrete projects in those areas on which they have worked. Essentially all my chemical investigations, however, are in only one area, and I tend to view my research not with respect to projects, but with respect to where I’ve been driven by two passions which I acquired in graduate school: I am passionate about the Periodic Table (and selenium, titanium and osmium are absolutely thrilling), and I am passionate about catalysis. What the ocean was to the child, the Periodic Table is to the chemist; new catalytic reactivity is, of course, my personal coelacanth.
- The discipline, nonetheless, is exacting: everything that can be observed should be observed, even if it is only recalled as the bland background from which the intriguing bits pop out like Venus in the evening sky. The goal is always finding something new, hopefully unimagined and, better still, hitherto unimaginable.