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Henry Eyring

Birthdate: (80)
Birthplace: Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Death: December 26, 1981 (80)
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States
Place of Burial: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Edward Christian Eyring and Caroline Eyring (Romney)
Husband of Winifred Eyring and Mildred Bennion Eyring
Father of Edward Marcos Eyring; Henry B. Eyring, Apostle, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Harden Romney Eyring
Brother of Camilla Kimball; Mary Eyring; Edward Christian Eyring, Jr.; Leland Romney Eyring; Catherine Edwards and 3 others
Half brother of Miles Romney Eyring; Anthony Ivins Eyring; Ruth Williams; Isabell Ellsworth; Maurine Boyd and 4 others

Occupation: taught chemistry at Princeton University
Managed by: Gwyneth McNeil
Last Updated:

About Henry Eyring

Henry Eyring (born February 20, 1901 in Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua – December 26, 1981 in Salt Lake City, Utah) was a Mexican-born American theoretical chemist whose primary contribution was in the study of chemical reaction rates and intermediates.

A prolific writer, he authored more than 600 scientific articles, ten scientific books, and a few books on the subject of science and religion. He received the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1980 and the National Medal of Science in 1966 for developing the Absolute Rate Theory or Transition state theory of chemical reactions, one of the most important developments of 20th-century chemistry.

Several other chemists later received the Nobel prize for work based on Eyring's theory, and his failure to receive the Nobel prize was a matter of surprise to many.[1] The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences apparently did not understand Eyring's theory until it was too late to award him the Nobel; the academy awarded him the Berzelius Medal in 1977 as partial compensation.[2] Sterling McMurrin believed he should have received the Nobel Prize but was not awarded it because of his religion.[3] Often the Swedish Academy is accused of denying individuals worthy of Prizes because of religious bias. It has been speculated that Albert Einstein was not awarded a second prize for Special and General Relativity, as well as George E. Uhlenbeck and Samuel A. Goudsmit for the discovery of electron spin because Einstein and Goudsmit were Jewish.

Eyring was also elected president of the American Chemical Society in 1963 and the Association for the Advancement of Science in 1965.


Eyring, a third generation Mormon, was reared on a cattle ranch in Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua a Mormon colony, for the first 11 years of his life. In July 1912, the Eyrings and about 4,200 other immigrants were driven out of Mexico by violent insurgents during the Mexican Revolution and moved to El Paso, Texas. After living in El Paso for approximately one year, the Eyrings relocated to Pima, Arizona, where Henry completed high school and showed a special aptitude for mathematics and science.

Eyring also studied at Gila Academy in Thatcher, Arizona, now Eastern Arizona College, where one of the pillars at the front of the main building still bears his name, along with that of his brother-in-law, Spencer W. Kimball, later president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Eyring's father was the last official mainstream LDS (Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) to practice polygamy, which he did until 1954 when one of his two wives died.

By 1919, Eyring had received a state fellowship to the University of Arizona, where he received degrees in mining engineering, metallurgy, and chemistry. He subsequently pursued and received his doctoral degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1927 for a thesis entitled: A Comparison of the Ionization by, and Stopping Power for, Alpha Particles of Elements and Compounds.

After a review of his dissertation, Princeton University recruited Eyring as an instructor in 1931. He would continue his work at Princeton until 1946[4] when he was offered a position as dean of the graduate school at the University of Utah. The chemistry building on the University of Utah campus is now named in his honor.

He had three sons with his wife, Mildred Bennion. The oldest, Edward M. "Ted" Eyring is a chemistry professor at the University of Utah. Henry B. Eyring is currently (2010) the First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Harden B. Eyring, is a higher education administrator for the State of Utah.

Religious beliefs

Eyring was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout his life. His views of science and religion were captured in this quote: "Is there any conflict between science and religion? There is no conflict in the mind of God, but often there is conflict in the minds of men."[5]

As a member of the LDS Church, he served as a branch president, district president, and, for over twenty years, a member of the general board of the Deseret Sunday School Union.


AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize (1932)

Bingham Medal (1949) of the Society of Rheology

Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry (1964)

Irving Langmuir Award (1967)

Linus Pauling Award (1969)

Elliott Cresson Medal (1969) from the Franklin Institute

T. W. Richards Medal (1975)

Priestley Medal (1975)

Berzelius Medal (1979)

Wolf Prize (1980)

Member of International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science

[edit] Scientific publications: books

Henry Eyring authored, co-authored, or edited the following books or journals:

A generalized theory of plasticity involving the virial theorem

The activated complex in chemisorption and catalysis

An examination into the origin, possible synthesis, and physical properties of diamonds

Annual Review of Physical Chemistry

Basic chemical kinetics

Deformation Kinetics with Alexander Stephen Krausz


Kinetic evidence of phase structure

Modern Chemical Kinetics

Non-classical reaction kinetics

Physical Chemistry, an Advanced Treatise (1970)

Quantum Chemistry

Reactions in condensed phases

The significance of isotopic reactions in rate theory

Significant Liquid Structures

Some aspects of catalytic hydrogenation

Statistical Mechanics

Statistical Mechanics and Dynamics

Theoretical Chemistry: Advances and Perspectives. Volume 2

The Theory of Rate Processes in Biology and Medicine with Frank H. Johnson and Betsy Jones Stover

Theory of Optical Activity (Monographs on Chemistry series) with D.J. Caldwell

Time and Change


[edit] Religious publications: books

Reflections of a Scientist (1983)[5]

The Faith of a Scientist. Bookcraft, Inc. (1967)

Science and your Faith in God. Bookcraft, Inc. (1958)

[edit] See also

Eyring equation

Mormon Scientist: The Life and Faith of Henry Eyring - book about Henry Eyring.


1. G.B. Kauffman; The Nobel Centennial 1901—2001; Chem. Educator 2001, 6, 370—384

2. "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry: The Development of Modern Chemistry". Retrieved 12 Jun 2010.

3. "Matters of Conscience: Conversations With Sterling M. McMurrin on Philosophy, Education, and Religion" by Sterling M. McMurrin & L. Jackson Newell, Signature Books, 1996

4. AAAS - The World's Largest General Scientific Society

5. a b Eyring, Harden Romney; Eyring, Henry (1983). Reflections of a scientist. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co. pp. 2. ISBN 0-87747-944-5.

[edit] External links

The Chemistry Department:1946-2000 by Edward M. Eyring, April K. Heiselt, & Kelly Erickson (University of Utah)

Biography from the National Academy of Sciences

Mini-Biography of Henry Eyring

Biography at the AAAS

The Eyring papers

"The Reconciliation of Faith and Science: Henry Eyring's Achievement" - 1982 article on Eyring as an LDS scientist from Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

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Henry Eyring's Timeline

February 20, 1901
Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
January 7, 1931
Age 29
Oakland, California, United States
May 31, 1933
Age 32
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
August 19, 1939
Age 38
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
December 26, 1981
Age 80
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States