John Charles Polanyi, PC CC FRSC OOnt FRS (born 23 January 1929) is a Hungarian-Canadian chemist who won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for his research in chemical kinetics. Polanyi was educated at Manchester University, and did postdoctoral research at the National Research Council in Canada and Princeton University in New Jersey. Polanyi's first academic appointment was at the University of Toronto, and he remains there as of 2014. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Polanyi has received numerous other awards, including 33 honorary degrees, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry and the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. Outside of his scientific pursuits, Polanyi is active in public policy discussion, especially concerning science and nuclear weapons. His father, Mihály (Michael), was a noted chemist and philosopher. His uncle Karl was an economist.
Polanyi's family moved from Germany to Britain in 1933, partly as a result of the persecution of Jews under Adolf Hitler (Polanyi's father, who converted to Catholicism, was born Jewish). During World War II, Polanyi's father sent him to Canada for three years when he was 11, so he would be safe from German bombings. While living in Toronto, he attended the University of Toronto Schools. After returning to Britain, Polanyi finished high school and attended university at Manchester, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1949 and his Ph. D. in 1952. Although his university education was focused in science, he was not convinced it was his calling after finishing high school, when he briefly considered a career as a poet. His father, Michael Polanyi, was a professor in the chemistry department during his first year of university, before transferring to a newly created position in the social studies department. Polanyi's supervisor during his graduate studies was Ernest Warhurst, a former student of his father's. After completing his Ph.D. studies, Polanyi did postdoctoral research at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Ontario from 1952 until 1954, where he worked with Edgar William Richard Steacie. From 1954 until 1956, he was a research associate at Princeton University...
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