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Atomic absorption spectroscopy has grown with amazing speed from its place in the early 1960's as a novel analytical technique to its present status as a method widely applied to all kinds of practical analytical problems. Proliferation of equipment and methods has been more rapid than for any other analytical technique. Consequently, perspective on capabilities of instruments and methods has sometimes been distorted. It was therefore appropriate that a symposium be designed with the express purpose of presenting the advantages and disadvantages of atomic absorption spectroscopy so that this technique could be inspected with objectivity. The invited speakers were selected, and their topics were coordinated so as to provide a comprehensive coverage of all aspects of atomic absorption. A. Walsh, the founder of atomic absorption, was to present a discussion of the theoretical physical aspect of the technique that would lay a sound basis for understanding instrumentation and flame processes. T. C. Rains, a recognized authority in the field, was to discuss the theoretical chemical aspects of atomic absorption, an understanding of which is essential to the design of practical working analytical methods. C. L. Grant and L. L. Lewis, representing Committees E-2 and E-3, were to put atomic absorption in perspective relative to other techniques by comparing it with other instrumental and classical chemical techniques. With these invited papers as a background, the authors of contributed papers could then concentrate on presenting the essentials of their original work without an extensive review and introduction. It can be said that in large measure the objectives of the symposium were achieved. Certainly, those attending obtained a clear view of the present state of theoretical knowledge. If the merit of atomic absorption relative to other techniques was somewhat less clear, it is only because sufficient time has not elapsed for this judgement to be made with finality. But there is no doubt that the ground rules for making that judgement were clearly defined.
Barnett, H. A.
Section headsymposium co-chairman, United States Steel Corp., Monroeville, Pa.
Adams, P. B.
Research chemistsymposium co-chairman, Corning Glass Works, Corning, N. Y.