Porter was born in Stainforth, near Thorne, South Yorkshire. He was educated at Thorne Grammar School, then won a scholarship to the University of Leeds and gained his first degree in chemistry. He then served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War.
His original research in developing the technique of flash photolysis to obtain information on short-lived molecular species provided the first evidence of free radicals. His later research utilised the technique to study the minutiae of the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis, with particular regard to possible applications to a hydrogen economy, of which he was a strong advocate.
Porter became Fullerian Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Royal Institution in 1966. During his directorship of the Royal Institution, Porter was instrumental in the setting up of Applied Photophysics, a company created to supply instrumentation based on his group's work. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1967 along with Manfred Eigen and Ronald George Wreyford Norrish. In the same year he became a Visiting Professor at University College London.
Porter was president of the Royal Society 1985–1990, having been elected a Fellow in 1960 and also winning the Davy Medal in 1971, the Rumford Medal in 1978, the Ellison-Cliffe Medal in 1991 and the Copley Medal in 1992. He was knighted in 1972 and was made a life peer as Baron Porter of Luddenham, of Luddenham in the County of Kent, in 1990. In 1995, he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) from the University of Bath.
Porter was a major contributor to the public understanding of science. He became president of the British Association in 1985 and was the founding Chair of the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS). He gave the Romanes Lecture, entitled "Science and the human purpose", at the University of Oxford in 1978; and in 1988 he gave the Dimbleby Lecture, "Knowledge itself is power". From 1990 to 1993 he gave the Gresham lectures in astronomy.
In 1976 he was invited to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Natural History of a Sunbeam.
- Fleming, G. R.; Phillips, D. (2004). "George Porter KT OM, Lord Porter of Luddenham. 6 December 1920 - 31 August 2002: Elected F.R.S. 1960". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 50: 257. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2004.0017.
- Phillips, D. (2002). "Obituary: George Porter (1920–2002)". Nature 419 (6907): 578. PMID 12374966. doi:10.1038/419578a.
- "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/77183.
- David Phillips The Biography of George Porter. icpress.co.uk
- "George Porter – Biography". Nobel Media. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
- "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". bath.ac.uk. University of Bath. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
|40x40px||Wikiquote has quotations related to: George Porter|
- Profile – Royal Institution of Great Britain
- "George Porter – Famous Experiments", Ri Channel video, 6 December 1985
- The Life and Scientific Legacy of George Porter, World Scientific Publishing, 2006
- Obituary in The Guardian, 3 September 2002
- Biographical Database of the British Chemical Community, 1880–1970
- "The Relevance of Science". George Porter. JASA (Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation) Vol. 28. March 1976. pp. 2–3.(Includes editorial responses from astronomer Owen Gingerich and theologian Bernard Ramm amongst others.)
William Lawrence Bragg
|Director of the Royal Institution
| Succeeded by|
John Meurig Thomas
Sir Alan Hodgkin
|Chancellor of the University of Leicester
| Succeeded by|
Sir Michael Atiyah
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