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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 70
February 20, 1901-December 26, 1981
BY WALTER KAUZMANN
HENRY EYRING WAS FORTUNATE in entering the arena of chemical physics at the time that quantum mechanics began impinging on the fundamental problems of chemistry. He was also fortunate in possessing to an unusual degree a fertile imagination, unbounded curiosity, a warm and outgoing personality, a high degree of intellectual talent, the ability to work hard, and a determination to succeed. The result was that, beginning in the early years of the 1930s, he exerted an important influence on the large numbers of students and colleagues lucky enough to come into contact with him. This influence continued to spread throughout the chemical community for the rest of his life.
He broke new ground in a wide sweep of scientific activities, involving matters that ranged from fundamental principles of chemistry to problems of a highly practical and applied nature. Some of his ideas contain elements that remain controversial and a considerable number of contemporary scientists continue to work on them.
Eyring was born in 1901 in the prosperous Mormon community of Colonia Juarez, Mexico (about 100 miles south of Columbus, New Mexico). He was a third generation Mormon, his grandparents on both sides having participated in