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Eponyms in Chemistry: Possessive or Nonpossessive?

Question asked by Yves Revi on Feb 5, 2013
Latest reply on Feb 23, 2013 by Yves Revi

I recently think about this while working on my presentation I'll give at university.


Is it "Grubbs's catalyst" or "Grubbs catalyst"?


The ACS Style Guide gives some examples:

Avogrado's number

Well, why not "Avogrado number"? The number isn't his, and he didn't find it either.


Boltzmann constant

He didn't introduce it. So, no possessive attribute is necessary, and this example is fine.


Einstein's theory

He introduced the famous theory. So, the possessive attribute is fine.


To sum up, when should we use the possessive attribute and when not? I personally prefer that the apostrophe-and-letter-s is used only when indicating a clear possession. Robert Grubbs introduced the famous catalyst, and we may thus call it "Grubbs's catalyst". But because the impact of the catalyst is so widespread, we can call it "Grubbs catalyst". On a side, but important, note, no name reaction uses apostrophe and letter "s".


Do you guys have thoughts on this? It's driving me mad, and I demand the mighty American Chemical Society to come up with a clear solution without loopholes.