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PROFORSK-Skole og samfunn

Victor Moritz Goldschmidt: Immigrant, Refugee, Scientist.

Alternative title: Victor Moritz Goldschmidt: Innvandre, Flykning, Forsker

Awarded: NOK 0.50 mill.

V. M. Goldschmidt: Immigrant, Refugee, Scientist Victor Moritz Goldschmidt (1888-1947) is recognized internationally as a founder of modern geochemistry and crystal chemistry. He and his disciples interdisciplinary contributions helped transform descriptive Earth-science into theoretically-sophisticated fields of inquiry. Their research also contributed to broader transformations of mineralogy and chemistry, including their value to industry. Although Goldschmidt took up broadly diverse studies, all of these relate ultimately to his underlying desire to comprehend the origins of the elements and the laws regulating their distribution in the Earth?s crust and in the cosmos as well as in the formation of minerals. Goldschmidt was one of Norway's most significant scientists. He is of interest, in part, as an entrepreneurial scientist who merged an incessant quest for new fundamental knowledge with a commitment to assist society and industry. His career also serves as an illustration of how intolerance and bias, pettiness and envy in the academic community can harm even a brilliant researcher. In his short career, he accomplished more than most scientists dare to dream of achieving, yet he never quite managed to attain one of his life-long goals: to be fully accepted and treated as a Norwegian. The Project Manager's on-going historical research based on extensive archival documents along with his professional experience as playwright are being drawn upon for developing a drama suitable for theater and for schools. In addition the project aims to produce a so-called ?graphic novel? or digital comic book, that will provide greater details of the Goldschmidt history, including insight into his most important achievements, in a creative and entertaining form. A preliminary pilot version will be created under the grant which will be used to seek further funds for a full-length version. Both parts of the project will ultimately provide opportunities to reflect on the contemporary significance of Goldschmidt's career and to appreciate the excitement and satisfaction a life devoted to research can bring, even in the face of adversity.

The project entails writing a multi-purpose drama about V. M. Goldschmidt (1888-1947), known internationally as the "father" of modern geochemistry and crystal chemistry. His research programs, which helped create these interdisciplinary specialties, also made possible more general transformations in geological sciences and inorganic chemistry, including their industrial uses. Goldschmidts research entailed innovative use of techniques and instrumentation from physics as well as recent theoretical advances from physical chemistry to the study of previously descriptive fields of inquiry. His many and varied investigations relate ultimately to his underlying multi-disciplinary vision of comprehending (1) the origins of the elements during the formation of the Earth and the cosmos more generally (2) the laws regulating the distribution of the elements in the Earths crust and, relatedly, the principles determining the distribution of elements in the formation of crystals and minerals in geological as well as in industrial processes. Goldschmidts success owed to his refusal to isolate his studies in academia, nor to limit himself to working within singular disciplines. He defined research programs that merged the quest for new basic knowledge with the imperative to serve societal needs. Goldschmidt, one of the most significant Norwegian scientists of all time, is largely neglected at home, in contrast to his reputation abroad. This marginalization stems from the fact that Goldschmidts history of accomplishment is also a history of turbulent relations with some university colleagues. The story of Goldschmidt is moreover one of how academic intolerance for somebody "different", ethnically or otherwise, resulted in tragedy. The dramatization, based on new research, will be suitable for theatres and schools, and will be supplemented with a form of digitalized comic book and digitalized animation film to ensure reaching and enlightening multiple audiences, especially young people.

Funding scheme:

PROFORSK-Skole og samfunn

Thematic Areas and Topics

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