Robert Burns Woodward

American chemist

Robert Burns Woodward (April 10, 1917 – July 8, 1979) was an American organic chemist. He is considered by many to be one of the preeminent organic chemists of the twentieth century

Robert Woodward in 1965


  • The structure known, but not yet accessible by synthesis, is to the chemist what the unclimbed mountain, the uncharted sea, the untilled field, the unreached planet, are to other men. The achievement of the objective in itself cannot but thrill all chemists, who even before they know the details of the journey can apprehend from their own experience the joys and elations, the disappointments and false hopes, the obstacles overcome, the frustrations subdued, which they experienced who traversed a road to the goal. The unique challenge which chemical synthesis provides for the creative imagination and the skilled hand ensures that it will endure as long as men write books, paint pictures, and fashion things which are beautiful, or practical, or both.
    • Robert Burns Woodward, "Art and Science in the Synthesis of Organic Compounds: Retrospect and Prospect," in Pointers and Pathways in Research (Bombay:CIBA of India, 1963).
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