F. Sherwood Rowland: Saving the World From His Desk in Irvine, California

“What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” – F. Sherwood Rowland

TutorNerds is proud to be part of the Orange County educational community. In fact, many of our private tutors graduated from its finest universities – including UC Irvine. For this reason we believe it’s important to share and recognize some of the area’s greatest minds. Maybe it’s the sunny weather, our prestigious research facilities, or a mixture of the two that draws such talent, either way, Orange County is often the catalyst for important scientific discoveries. In doing so, we hope to tap your curiosity and inspire you to explore other OC greats.

The Ozone Thanks You, Sherwood

UC Irvine's F. Sherwood Rowland

Unless you’re interested in Chemistry, the name F. Sherwood Rowland may not be too familiar, but his world-saving discovery most likely is. A native of Delaware, Ohio, Rowland made his way to the University of California, Irvine, in 1964 as a chemistry professor. It was here that he began collaborating with notable chemist Mario Molina; a collaboration that would result in a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995.

Rowland’s area of interests was in the destructive nature of man-mad chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) on the earth’s ozone layer. Unlike today, the destruction of the ozone layer – that is, the layer that keeps us safe from ultraviolet radiation – was a mere myth. Thankfully, the Irvine Chemist took his concern, with the help of an assistant, and discovered that CFCs do cause harm to the ozone. Encyclopedia Britannica puts it: “Rowland and Molina theorized that CFC gases combine with solar radiation and decompose in the stratosphere, releasing atoms of chlorine and chlorine monoxide that are individually able to destroy large numbers of ozone molecules.”

Despite its proven destructiveness, CFC use didn’t cease immediately – something we find today with fossil fuels. Even after other scientists backed up Rowland’s findings, laws weren’t enacted until the damage was already done. Elizabeth Kolbert’s commentary Rough Forecasts, in a recent edition of The New Yorker, pinpoints the exact moment in history when the situation went from scary to urgent:

“The discovery, in the mid-nineteen-eighties, of an ozone “hole” over the South Pole persuaded world leaders, including Ronald Reagan, that the problem was, in fact, urgent, and a global treaty phasing out CFCs was approved in 1987.”

A determined chemist from the University of California, Irvine, helped save the world from the destruction of our ozone layer. If that doesn’t inspire you, Orange County, I don’t know what will.

slide3aAs you work your way through end of the year testing, look to people like F. Sherwood Rowland for motivation. In addition, don’t wait until it’s too late to seek help. Whether it’s the SAT, finals, or college/internship entrance essays, TutorNerds’ Orange County private in-home tutors are here to help.

One last thing: Remember to enter our essay contest by 12 Noon on May 31st, 2014. Just think of all the textbooks you could buy with the $500 grand prize!

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