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Harry Kroto: passing of a great scientist

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of Harry Kroto who died on 30th April 2016. We were very privileged to know him and he gave great encouragement to us in the early days of Calmast.

Harry was won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 (with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley) for the discovery of the structure of C60 carbon molecules. The structure is made up of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons which they named which they called Buckminsterfullerenes after Buckminster Fuller the architectural genius who designed geodesic domes. Harry had a great interest in many areas and was gifted artistically and this surely was part of his greatness as a scientist. Harry won many accolades: Fellowships of Royal Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, his Knighthood and many more.

Harry's parents came to Britain in the 1930's escaping Nazi persecution where he was born on October 7 1939. Perhaps as a result of this he was throughout his life courageous and outspoken where he saw injustice.

He was also devoted to science and critical inquiry and saw this as important for all. He spent a lot of his time and energy in promoting science. It was through this activity that he came to speak at the European Young Scientist held at UCD. And as Calmast had a stand doing science displays it was there we met him and Sheila Donegan on a long shot invited him to Waterford.

Unfortunately Harry didnt know how long it was to Waterford and we didnt know that he was prone to travel sickness. The trip from Dublin to Waterford was very strained and we had to pull in at Carlow to let him out to walk. When he got back to the car we had traditional music playing on Radio na Gaeltachta and I went to turn it off. He stopped me saying that he used to be a big fan of Irish music and talked knowledgeably about music while listening to Radio na Gaeltachta on the worst roads of the journey.

Harry gave a massive workshop for primary schools from around the city making Bucky Balls and giving his   passionate sell on science. I wonder how many of those pupils are now working in STEM? He then spoke to our WIT science students imploring them to always work for the betterment of civilisation.

Such was he with his time and energy that there must be thousands working in science because of Harry's very positive influence.

Harry was very supportive to us in early days of Calmast and wrote a great testimonial for us as you can see here.

While we met him afterwards at events and kept in sporadic email touch, we always intended having him back to Waterford now that the journey is only 90 mins by motorway. We wish Margaret and their sons our deepest sympathy and appreciation.

Eoin & Sheila



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