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Charles A. Coulson


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Photo : Courtesy of K. Ohno; © R. McWeeny
Charles Alfred Coulson, (1910-1974), English theoretical chemist who developed a molecular orbital theory and the concept of partial valency. He developed many mathematical techniques for solving chemical and physical problems.

Coulson was born in Dudley, Yorkshire, and studied at Cambridge. He became professor of theoretical physics at King's College, London, 1947, professor of mathematics at Oxford 1952, and later Oxford's first Professor of Theoretical Chemistry. He was chair of the charity Oxfam 1965-71.

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Photo : Courtesy of K. Ohno; © R. McWeeny
C.A. Coulson, Valence. Oxford University Press, New York & Oxford, 1952.
Something historic of time-dependent importance :
C.A. Coulson :
The Present State of Molecular Structure Calculations.     Read it here.

Revs. Mod. Phys. 32, 171-177 (1960).


Of historical interest, from the archive of K. and A. Ohno © :

Some personal notes from C. A. Coulson to K. Ohno : Letters 1/2    Letters 2/2

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The molecular orbital theory that Coulson developed is an extension of atomic quantum theory and deals with 'allowed' states of electrons in association with two or more atomic nuclei, treating a molecule as a whole. He was thus able to explain properly phenomena such as the structure of benzene and other conjugated systems, and invoked what he called partial valency to account for the bonding in such compounds as diborane. Coulson also contributed significantly to the understanding of the solid state (particularly metals), such as the structure of graphite and its 'compounds'.

He wrote three best-selling books: Waves 1941, Electricity 1948, and Valence 1952.

For the time being : This short biography originates from :
which appears, as of Apr. 21, 2002, to be no longer in operation.

Another short biography may be found at : http://physchem.ox.ac.uk/history/theo.htm                                             ... [return] ...

The following was an address given by Roy McWeeny, Professor of Theoretical
Chemistry at University of Sheffield, which opened the Fifth Canadian
Symposium on Theoretical Chemistry, being held at University of
Ottawa in June, 1974, and was dedicated to the memory of Charles
Coulson, F.R.S.

Article to this website : Courtesy of K. Ohno.

Coulson : The Man and the Scientist

By Roy McWeeny

Charles Coulson with his family. Photo : Courtesy of K. Ohno; © R. McWeeny

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Copyright © Apr. 21, 2002 by U. Anders, Ph.D.
e-mail Udo Anders : udo39@t-online.de

Last updated : Apr. 28, 2002 - 17:57 CET