Thursday, 3 October 2019

Dr Lennard-Jones

I was attending an appointment at the local hospital earlier this week, and one of the doctors present was called Dr Lennard-Jones.  I immediately thought of the Lennard-Jones potential, such a standard part of physics and chemistry that we teach it to our undergraduates, and named after Sir John Lennard-Jones (d.1954), who was a professor of physics at Bristol and Cambridge.

I wasn't sure if it was okay to ask if she (the doctor) was any relation, but during some small talk it came up what I did for a living, which was a way in for me to ask if she was any relation of the famous physicist.  The answer was yes, unsurprisingly (since presumably this particular combination of names has only been double-barrelled once).  If I remember what she said rightly, he was her great-grandfather.   She said it had been a while since anyone had asked and it was always nice when they did.  

I thought it was nice, too, to make that link, and to meet a real-life Lennard-Jones.  The picture is the famous 6-12 Lennard-Jones potential, courtesy of Wikipedia.

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