More years ago than I now care to remember, at the beginning of my career as an isotope geochemist, I was told by Ian Swainbank that I would never properly understand the behaviour of stable isotope systems unless I understood the statistical and quantum thermodynamics that described these processes. He was right, and I found this out after enrolling on a course in statistical and quantum thermodynamics and working my way through the early classic papers on isotopic chemistry by Urey, Bigeleisen and others. Whilst this process may well have been good for my ‘geochemical soul’, I sorely wish that...

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