Pierre LaszloIn hmolscience, Pierre Laszlo (1938-) is a French organic chemist noted for his 1978 article “All Kinds of Affinities”, on German polyintellect Johann Goethe’s 1809 physical chemistry based novella Elective Affinities, and for his 1995 Organic Reactions textbook wherein he mentions the character Mittler (P1:C2) as being representative of an auxiliary molecule or mediator (catalyst) that has the ability to convert reactants from inert from to labile form via lowering the activation energy barrier of the transition state. [1]

In 1995, Laszlo, in his Organic Reactions, cites Goethe as follows: [2]

“We will not develop further this topic in this chapter: the conversion from inert to labile—by lowering the transition state with an auxiliary molecule, a mediator (just like the character of ‘Mittler’ in Goethe’s Elective Affinities)—is by definition catalysis. Catalysis of organic reactions is field in full expansion.”

This is one of the rare handful of citations to Goethe human chemical theory in a chemistry textbook.

In 2001, Laszlo, in his Salt: Grain of Life, his most widely-held book, touches on the history of salt, from the Roman salt pay origin of the term “salary” to so-called evil diminution effect of having or throwing salt about one’s environment—though, to note, he doesn’t seem to speculate on the neurochemical explanation this effect in regards to the air ionization effect, i.e. positive air ion (+) concentration increase, of throwing salt, similar to the feel good effect that occurs around campfires, waterfalls, and after thunderstorms. [2]

Laszlo studied chemistry at Grenoble and then completed his PhD in chemistry at Sorbonne in 1965, becoming an assistant professor at the University of Princeton. In 1970 he became a professor at the University of Liege, remaining there until 1999, after which he seems to have switched over into a writing career, mostly in general science and popular chemistry subjects. Laszlo’s self-written 2001 minibiography is: “honorary professor of chemistry at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, France and the University of Liege, Belgium. Was on the faculty at Princeton University in the late 60s. Has Held a dozen visiting professorships in various American universities (Berkeley, Chicago, Colorado, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, etc.). Main research interest is catalysis of organic reactions by inorganic solids: such as the clay minerals. More than 200 primary publications and 15 published monographs, textbooks and essays in the popularization of science.” [3]

1. (a) Laszlo, Pierre. (1978). “Toutes Sortes d'Affinités” (“All Kinks of Affinities”), Nouveau Journal de Chimie (1977-1986); New Journal of Chemistry (1987-present), 2:435-36.
(b) Laszlo, Pierre. (1995). Organic Reactions: Simplicity and Logic (Mittler, pg. 269). Wiley.
2. Laszlo, Pierre. (1995). Organic Reactions: Simplicity and Logic (Mittler, pg. 269). Wiley.
3. Laszlo, Pierre. (2001). Salt: Grain of Life (§: Proverb of the Aspersion, pg. 149; evil, 5+ pgs). HarperCollins.
4. Pierre Laszlo (about) – Ulg.ac.be.

External links
● Pierre Laszlo (FrenchEnglish) – Wikipedia.
Home – PierreLaszlo.com.
Laszlo, Pierre – WorldCat Identities.

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