Science, serendipity, and coincidence

As part of my science history project, the article “Science, serendipity, coincidence, and the Oregonator at the University of Oregon, 1969–1974” has been published in Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science.

It’s especially exciting because it’s the Feature article in the Focus Issue, From Chemical Oscillations to Applications of Nonlinear Dynamics: Dedicated to Richard J. Field on the Occasion of his 80th Birthday.

After many months of email exchanges and virtual meetings, I met Bob Mazo for the first time in person this January (see blog entry ‘50 years later‘). Together with Dick Field, the sole living scientist of the Field-Kőrös-Noyes (FKN) mechanism, developed in the early 1970s we revisited the exciting start of a new field in physical chemistry. The FKN mechanism was the first complete reaction scheme to describe the behavior of the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction, a nonlinear chemical reaction-diffusion system (more here). Shortly after, they developed a mathematical three-variable model to describe the BZ reaction’s nonlinear behavior – the Oregonator model. The name was a response to the Brusselator model, developed by Ilya Prigogine in Brussels in the 1950s and 1960s. For his work on non-equilibrium thermodynamics and dissipative structures, Ilya Prigogine was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.

Fun fact: The total author age is 225, the average author age is 75! This will be difficult to beat.

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