Honorary Doctorate for chess grandmaster

7/28/2010 – Sir Harry Kroto was there – the emeritus professor who in 1996 received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of the C60 (buckminsterfullerene) molecule. He attended the same school as actor Sir Ian McKellan (Gandalf in Lord of the Rings) – and a chess grandmaster, who last week was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University. Can you guess who that was?

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Honorary Doctorate for GM Nigel Short

Viktor Korchnoi received one back in 2002, World Champion Anand has picked up a few. The chess grandmaster, waiting in the picture above to receive his Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bolton, is Nigel Short. We have always thought he should receive peerage of some sort. But okay, Doctor Short will do for the time being. He is currently forcing us to call him that, but since have known him since infancy (his, not ours) we are going with Dr Nigel.

Nigel went to Bolton School as a child, as did Nobel Laureate Harold Walter Kroto, who is posing with chess grandmaster in the above picture. In the sixties and seventies Sir Harry took a keen interest in carbon chains in the interstellar medium. He and his colleagues discovered ever longer chains and proved that these could be produced by carbon stars. This led to the discovery of the C60 molecule, which they called the buckminsterfullerene (as an homage to Richard Buckminster Fuller, whose geodesic domes the molecule resembles). The new carbon allotrope has important applications in electronics and nanotechnology.

Sir Harry was raised in the Jewish faith, but he has stated that religion never made any sense to him. He attended and was a speaker at the Beyond Belief symposia in 2006 and 2007. You can listen to his edifying lecture here (starting from 31 min 30 sec into the video). Anyone interested in physics should also watch the following:


Horizon documentary on the discovery of carbon-60 (buckminsterfullerene)

Another famous "old boy" of Bolton School is actor Sir Ian McKellan (Gandalf, Magneto, etc.), whos was a contemporary of Sir Harry, who at some stage in fact did a performance of Shakespeare's Henry V with him.


You will remember Sir Ian McKellan from Lord of the Rings, the film trilogy which World
Champion Anand and his team watched on their harrowing trip to Sofia earlier this year.


Nigel with his proud mother Jean at Bolton University

So what next? Sir Nigel sounds good and fits well with his Bolton School old boys. And begins to match the titles of his boss on the ECU Presidential ticket. Nigel Duke of Bolton? But we go too far...


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