Harry Kroto tells us why Sir John Kappa is his hero in chemistry

Harry Kroto was one of three recipients to share the 1996 Nobel prize in chemistry for the discovery of fullerenes (buckyballs).


Sir Harry Kroto


Sir John (Kappa) Cornforth

My close friend and Sussex University colleague Chemistry Nobel prize winner Sir John (Kappa) Cornforth has been a great influence. Our recordings of Kappa for the Vega Science Trust reveal his charm and deep intelligence as well as the character of someone who exudes humour and a deep understanding of science.  

Kappa, born in 1917, was always happy to give me advice whenever I needed it, but the most important advice was in his 1992 Royal Australian Chemical Institute 75th Anniversary Lecture, ’Scientists as citizens’.1 Nothing has had a more profound influence on me than this deeply penetrating perspective on science and scientists - both positive and negative! This concise tour-de-force, brimful with penetrating comments, advice, humour, and culture should be mandatory reading not only for young scientists but everyone, particularly those with responsibility in the 21st century. It is the collected wisdom of a man who, though deaf since a teenager, was awarded the Nobel prize. He is not only an iconic example for young people on how to triumph over similarly severe disabilities but for all of us as it confronts scientists, and non-scientists, with our humanitarian and societal responsibilities.