William George Schneider OC FRS FRSC was an eminent Canadian chemist and science administrator. At the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in Ottawa, he made high-precision measurements relating to the gas laws, to phase changes and to critical phenomena. He showed experimentally the need to reduce the gravitational density gradient in measurements of the critical point and used ultrasonic studies to support the concept of dynamic cluster formation. After a decade, he switched to nuclear magnetic resonance. He did pioneering work on the analysis of high-resolution spectra of protons in organic compounds and on the information that can be derived about intramolecular and intermolecular interactions. These studies were the basis for an influential book, High-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance, written with Harold Bernstein and John Pople. Concurrently, he investigated the photoconductivity and semiconductivity of insulating organic crystals, in particular anthracene. He explored the conditions necessary to make accurate measurements and then studied the electronic processes in anthracene. The advent of lasers allowed him, with Boris Stoicheff, to probe more deeply into these processes. This work was of considerable interest to major high-technology companies. Bill rose rapidly through the managerial structure of the NRC and became its president in 1967, serving for 13 years, the longest of any president. After retiring, Bill served for several years with the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, two of them as its president, and remained active as a chemical consultant, advising small start-up companies. He died at the age of 97 years in Ottawa.
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Published by the Royal Society