Stories and photographs of William A. Arnold (1904–2001), a pioneer of photosynthesis and a wonderful friend

Abstract

William A. Arnold discovered many phenomena in photosynthesis. In 1932, together with Robert Emerson, he provided the first experimental data that led to the concept of a large antenna and a few reaction centers (photosynthetic unit); in 1935, he obtained the minimum quantum requirement of 8–10 for the evolution of one O2 molecule; in 1951, together with Bernard L. Strehler, he discovered delayed fluorescence (also known as delayed light emission) in photosynthetic systems; and in 1956, together with Helen Sherwood, he discovered thermoluminescence in plants. He is also known for providing a solid-state picture of photosynthesis. Much has been written about him and his research, including many articles in a special issue of Photosynthesis Research (Govindjee et al. (eds.) 1996); and a biography of Arnold, by Govindjee and Srivastava (William Archibald Arnold (1904–2001), 2014), in the Biographical Memoirs of the US National Academy of Sciences, (Washington, DC). Our article here offers a glimpse into the everyday life, through stories and photographs, of this remarkable scientist.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Elizabeth Arnold, mother of Lucinda Choules, for sharing her stories about her father for this article, helping us with timelines, and providing Figs. 1, 2, and 4. We are thankful to Helen Herron, Elizabeth Arnold, Jane F. Hill, and George C. Papageorgiou for reading this manuscript, and for their valuable suggestions for improving it.

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Correspondence to Lucinda Choules or Govindjee.

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This historical paper was read, edited and approved for publication in the Historical Corner of Photosynthesis Research by Elizabeth Arnold and Helen Herron, daughters of William A. Arnold, Jane F. Hill, a historian of science, and George C. Papageorgiou, an expert on Photosynthesis and Related Processes. Papageorgiou wrote “I really enjoyed reading this “Historical Corner” paper by Choules and Govindjee. William (Bill) Arnold ’s personality emerges as I have always imagined it: An inventive, influential, highly likable photo-physicist, with lasting discoveries, and at the same time, a warm human being and a family man. He lived and worked at a time when the center of gravity of world science was shifting from Europe to the United States, from the Nobel-laureate Otto Warburg in Germany to Robert Emerson and his contemporaries in the USA. Authors stand to be congratulated.”

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Choules, L., Govindjee Stories and photographs of William A. Arnold (1904–2001), a pioneer of photosynthesis and a wonderful friend. Photosynth Res 122, 87–95 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11120-014-0013-9

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Keywords

  • William A. Arnold
  • Delayed fluorescence
  • Nuclear fission
  • Photosynthetic unit
  • Photosynthesis
  • Thermoluminescence