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Hubert Alyea ’24 *28

Published in Dec. 11, 1996, issue

Hubert Newcombe Alyea, a professor emeritus of chemistry at Princeton, died in Hightstown, N.J., Oct. 19, 1996. He was 93.

While at Princeton, Hubert played cello for the Triangle Club and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his PhD at Princeton in 1928.

In 1930 he first wrote about "activated absorption" to describe how a reaction begins with hydrogen atoms attached to the surface of a container. This process was later called "high-temperature absorption."

In the 1960s Hubert developed the teaching method known as TOPS (for Tested Overhead Projection Series), which allowed teachers to demonstrate colorful chemical reactions. This "armchair chemistry" helped to popularize the subject, and his textbooks were translated into many languages. He was famous for his lectures about the atomic bomb and one called Lucky Accidents, Great Discoveries and the Prepared Mind.

In 1984, Dickinson College presented him with the Joseph Priestly award, which goes to a scientist for discoveries that contribute to the welfare of humanity.

Husband of the late Evelyn Shields, Hubert is survived by his son, Frederick, one granddaughter, two nephews, and six great-nephews and great-nieces.

The Class of 1924

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