The hometown of Roald Hoffmann, the Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus, has held an event, with lectures and music, to commemorate Hoffmann’s 80th birthday, which was July 18.
Hoffmann was born in 1937 in the small town of Zolochiv, Ukraine, formerly a part of Poland. Having survived the Holocaust, he came to the U.S. in 1949 and studied chemistry at Columbia and Harvard, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1962. He has received many of the honors of his profession, including the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Zolochiv has named a street after him, and Ukraine issued a postage stamp on his birthday.
As a writer, Hoffmann has carved out a land between science, poetry, and philosophy, through many essays and books, among them "Chemistry Imagined" with artist Vivian Torrence, "The Same and Not the Same" (translated into six languages), "Old Wine, New Flasks: Reflections on Science and Jewish Tradition," with Shira Leibowitz Schmidt, and a collection of his essays and lectures, edited by J. Kovac and M. Weisberg, "Roald Hoffmann on the Philosophy, Art, and Science of Chemistry.”
Six collections of his poetry have been published, including book-length selections of poems translated into Spanish and Russian. He has also co-written a play with fellow chemist Carl Djerassi, entitled "Oxygen," and two by himself, "Should’ve" and "Something that Belongs to You." The latter has just been seen by 5,000 people in a Tokyo production, and will be broadcast nationwide in Japan on Aug. 6.