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title SUMMARY /title

The essay is divided in three parts. The first part is dedicated to C. J. Pedersen and to his work in the Du Pont laboratories. After a brief biography and a description of the research milieu at Du Pont, the narrative follows the discovery of crown ethers, its announcement with the momentous 'blockbuster' of 1967, and its immediate impact on the chemical community. In this first part it is also emphasised how the Du Pont Patent Division imposed a very long delay on the publication of Pedersen's seminal paper. The second part of the present essay describes the initial contributions by J.-M. Lehn and D. J. Cramm. The innovative and different features of their researches are analysed, as well as the progressive establishment of the new research field. The third and last part discusses the three Nobel Lectures given in 1987 by Pedersen, Lehn and Cramm; an attentive reading of the texts reveals the research intentions, writing styles, and epistemological awareness of the three Authors. Beside the narrative of the origin of supramolecular chemistry, the principal results of the essay are: (a) the co-operative effect of very different experimental researches also in the highly specialised contemporary chemistry; (b) further evidence on the contrast between auto-biographical reconstruction of the past and the historical documents; (c) the feasibility of historical research on recent disciplinary events and processes; (d) the usefulness of sources found on the World Wide Web.

Affiliations: 1: Universit di Torino


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