Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Benjamin Burtt: The Water Lecture

Professor Benjamin Burtt's Water Lecture, for four decades of SU chemistry students, was an unforgettable pre-finals gift. Prof. Burtt, gifted with a completely dry sense of humor, went on stage for an hour about the little-known properties of water. Students tried taking notes, but that didn't last long. 

Professor Burtt passed away last winter to the great sadness of the SU community and also to a host of faithful readers of his weekly birding columns in the Syracuse papers.

Above, Michael Sponsler, SU professor of chemistry, demonstrates the properties of heavy water.

Late in June, at an evening sponsored by the Syracuse Section of the American Chemical Society, Burtt's chemistry colleagues presented awards to many area high school students for excellent work in chemistry, and then treated an audience of 200 or more students, faculty, parents, and community members lucky enough to see the notice in the paper, to a unique performance. We saw an original video of his famous Water Lecture along with real time demonstrations of many of the finer points of the lecture. 

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