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Prof. A. W. Stewart

Nature volume 158, page 613 (02 November 1946) | Download Citation



The many friends of Prof. A. W. Stewart learned, with regret, fitfhfs ratuwnent in 1944 from the chair of chemistr University, Belfast, which he years. Educated at the ofttiiasgow, the University of Marburg and University College, London, he in turn held the lectureship in organic chemistry at Belfast and the lectureship in physical chemistry and radioactivity at Glasgow, and in 1919 succeeded the late Prof. Letts as professor of chemistry at Belfast. Stewart did much to create the school from which many of his students at Belfast went to take up important positions at home and abroad. Possessed of a fertile imagination, Stewart foresaw the dangers of early specialization, and was unceasing in his labours to provide a sound and fundamental training in all aspects of modern chemistry. Thus equipped, his students found themselves ready to undertake posts of responsibility in many spheres of academic and industrial chemistry. Stewart was catholic in his interests and was ever ready to give the benefit of his counsel and experience to the young research workers. Stimulated by his close association with Ramsay and Collie, he developed a keen interest in the application of physical chemistry to the elucidation of the structure and properties of organic compounds, and his work upon Tesla-luminescence spectra was especially noteworthy. By employing a fresh method of excitation, Stewart and his co-workers obtained a series of spectra, each of which is characteristic of the compound which emits it. Thus a new constitutional property was added to those previously known and a new field in spectroscopy was developed. His many books, notably his series on “Recent Advances”—which have now reached many editions-are testimony to his love of investigation and to his interest in the welfare of the undergraduate. It is of interest to note that Stewart suggested that elements which have identical atomic weights but differ in chemical properties should be named ‘isobars’. He found pleasure in more recent years in detective fiction and, using the nom de plume of J. J. Connington, he has given pleasure to many all over the world. In spite of physical disabilities, Alfred W. Stewart never spared himself in the many interests of teaching, research and writing, and has won the admiration and sympathy of all.

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