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Gilbert Newton Lewis
Biography
Gilbert Newton Lewis, known as “GN” by his colleagues, is one of the most distinguished chemists of the twentieth century. His work in thermodynamics, the electron pair bond, and acidbase theory is well known in the scientific community. Many of his biographies, including one in the NEACT Journal, 1 have presented and analyzed his scientific contributions.2,3 Recently, two people have made unique contributions to a better understanding of the man and his accomplishments. Lewis’ son, Edward (Ted) S. Lewis has written a biography of his famous father that includes heretofore undocumented insights into his personal and private life.4 The last chapter in the book chronicles the efforts of Mr. Harold R. Paretchan of Weymouth, MA in gaining public recognition for GN Lewis. This installment of “New England Chemists” examines Ted Lewis’ biography of his father, and Harold Paretchan’s activities on behalf of GN Lewis. Traveling North on Route 18 (Washington Street) through Weymouth Landing there is, at the bottom of the landing, a plaque mounted on a pole marking the birthplace of Gilbert Newton Lewis. The plaque, erected by the Weymouth Board of Selectmen in 1998, symbolizes both the contributions Lewis made to the development of modern chemistry, and the persistence and commitment of Harold Paratchan in gaining public recognition of those accomplishments. Though separated by years and careers, GN and Harold have become connected. Gilbert Newton Lewis not only contributed significantly to the foundations of modern chemistry, but also built the University of California at Berkeley chemistry department, one of the strongest and most highly regarded in the world. He was a family man, respected colleague, noted researcher, admired teacher, and skilled administrator. Harold Paretchen, a long-time resident of Weymouth, is not a scientist, yet strongly believes in the critical role science and scientists have played in creating our high...
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