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MARGINALIA

Bonding to Hydrogen

The simplest molecule, made for connection

Roald Hoffmann

One World

The first element, the simplest diatomic molecule there is—what could be simpler? Hold on—an H2 molecule in solid H2 under pressure, an H2 molecule approaching a Pt surface in Döbereiner’s firelighter, the H2 bubbling out of the solution of a 13-year-old boy playing with slightly dangerous chemicals in a Brooklyn apartment, the H2 in transition metal complexes Greg Kubas saw for the first time in the world—of course, each is different, peculiar, set apart by its conditions of generation and preservation. But there can’t be different rules of nature operating for one H2 and not the other. The joy is in seeing the connections.








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