17: Where are the Electrons? (1968)


  • Ronald Drayton Brown Department of Chemistry, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria


Liversidge Lecture delivered before the Royal Society of New South Wales, July 17th, 1968. Reproduced by permission of the Royal Society of New South Wales from J. Proc. Roy. Soc. N.S.W., 1968-9, 102, 73-81.

"When chemists come to interpret their observations in terms of the atomic molecular theory of matter one of the first questions to be settled is: where are the electrons?"

"I propose to try to illustrate the current fight with ignorance and to do it at two levels. Firstly, I want to consider how much we know about the gross distribution of electrons when we merely try to assess the net charges that should be associated with each atom. Secondly, I want to consider to what extent we can distribute the atomic electron densities among the different atomic orbitals associated with each atomic nucleus."

Author Biography

Ronald Drayton Brown, Department of Chemistry, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria

Ronald Drayton Brown graduated MSc in 1948 from the University of Melbourne, where he worked on acridone alkaloids, before gaining a Fellowship to King’s College, London, where he studied theoretical physics. In 1952–53 he was an assistant lecturer at University College (London), where, with colleagues, he established the mechanism of diazonium coupling of imidazole. Later in his career he was appointed the Foundation Chair of Chemistry at Monash University and remained Head of Department until 1992. He retired as Emeritus Professor in 1993.


For additional biographical information, photographic permissions, references and a list of honours, awards and publications, please see pages 2–4 of the transcript.


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Ronald Drayton Brown portrait.