Theoretical Chemistry Comes Alive: Full Partner with Experiment

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Science  22 Feb 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4689, pp. 917-923
DOI: 10.1126/science.227.4689.917


During the last decade, advances in computational techniques and in the extraction of chemically useful concepts from electronic wave functions have put theorists into the mainstream of chemistry. Some recent examples of the prediction of spectroscopic quantities and the elucidation of catalytic processes for homogeneous and heterogeneous reactions from theoretical calculations are used to illustrate how theory and experiment are now full partners in chemical research. It is expected that during the next decade the thrust of theoretical chemistry will be to combine the knowledge of fundamental chemical steps and fundamental interactions with advances in chemical dynamics and irreversible statistical mechanics and in computer technology to produce simulations of chemical systems with competing reactions taking place simultaneously at various reaction sites. The promise of such simulation is illustrated by a study of the enzyme thermolysin.