Courtesy of Jack Liu

Richard M. Noyes



and the

Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reaction


Those who knew and worked with Dick will remember him as an exceptionally fine person and physical chemist. He dedicated his abundant personal and intellectual abilities to making the world a better place. He directed his scientific work almost entirely toward understanding the details of how chemical reactions occur; making seminal contributions in isotopic-exchange processes, the theory of molecular diffusion in solution, and treatment of complex kinetics and reactions mechanisms; and most memorably, pioneering work on the mechanisms of oscillating chemical reactions and nonlinear dynamics in chemistry.

In 1969 a scientific challenge appeared that Dick's 30 years of work in complex reaction mechanisms and reactive diffusion had fitted him to meet probably better than any other person in the world: the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction. Starting with elucidation in 1971 of the BZ mechanism, he pioneered and solidified over the next 25 years an entirely new area of physical chemistry: oscillatory chemical reactions. Over one-half of this 208 scientific publications are in this area and appeared after his fiftieth birthday.

Dick Noyes was a classic progressive who practiced his conviction that human goodwill and intelligence will lead to a better world of all. His fundamental work on molecular diffusion, the cage effect, and especially the BZ reaction found its place in textbooks of physical chemistry. Dick himself in his sixtieth year reflected on his life for the 1978-79 edition of Who's Who in America:

When I was young, I wanted to be an "explorer". I am fortunate to have a job in which I can make discoveries as exciting as those of the explorers who first sailed uncharted seas. Then I can try to convey the excitement to another generation. As an avocation, I try to influence government policies toward our least developed lands. It is a gratifying mix of satisfying curiosity and serving society.

He will be warmly remembered by the many people whose lives he touched.



RICHARD MACY NOYES, 1919-1997. A Biographical Memoir  by Richard J. Field and John A. Schellman, Biographical Memoirs, Volume 77. Published 1999 by The National Academy Press, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D. C., USA.