chemistry

Frederick Sanger and the Structure of Proteins

Frederick Sanger and the Structure of Proteins

On August 13, 1918, British biochemist Frederick Sanger was born. In 1958, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in chemistry “for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin“. In 1980, Walter Gilbert and Sanger shared half of the chemistry prize “for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids“. “Scientific research is one of the most exciting and rewarding of occupations. It is…
Paul Walden and the Walden Inversion

Paul Walden and the Walden Inversion

On July 26, 1863, Russian and Latvian-German chemist Paul Walden was born. Walden is known for his work in stereochemistry and history of chemistry. In particular he invented the stereochemical reaction known as Walden inversion and synthesized the first room-temperature ionic liquid, ethylammonium nitrate. Paul Walden was born in Rozula in present-day Stalbe parish, Pārgauja municipality, Latvia as the youngest of 13 children in a peasant family. Already at the…
Sir Frederick Abel and the Smokeless Gunpowder

Sir Frederick Abel and the Smokeless Gunpowder

On July 17, 1827, English chemist Sir Frederick Abel was born. Abel was a military explosives specialist, and with the chemist Sir James Dewar, invented cordite in 1889, which is a smokeless gunpowder that was later adopted as the standard explosive of the British army, and proved vital in WWI. Frederick Abel studied chemistry at the Royal Polytechnic Institution. In 1845 he started studying at the Royal College of Chemistry…
Emil Erlenmayer and the Erlenmayer Flask

Emil Erlenmayer and the Erlenmayer Flask

On June 28, 1825, German chemist Emil Erlenmeyer was born. Erlenmayer is known for contributing to the early development of the theory of structure, formulating the Erlenmeyer rule, and especially for designing the Erlenmeyer flask, a type of chemical flask, which is named after him. Actually, I remember the Erlenmeyer flask from my earliest chemistry lessons back in high school. So, who was the man behind that prominent gadget? Richard…
John Jacob Abel and the Endocrine Glands

John Jacob Abel and the Endocrine Glands

On May 19, 1857, American biochemist and pharmacologist John Jacob Abel was born. Abel made important contributions to a modern understanding of the ductless, or endocrine, glands. He extracted a derivative of epinephrine, also known as adrenaline and successfully purified and isolated crystalline insulin. His interest in kidney functions led to his invention of a primitive artificial kidney that was able to remove toxins from the blood of living animals,…
William Francis Giauque and the Absolute Zero

William Francis Giauque and the Absolute Zero

On May 12, 1895, American chemist and Nobel laureate William Francis Giauque was born. Giauque received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1949 for his “achievements in the field of chemical thermodynamics and especially his work on the behavior of matter at very low temperatures and his closely allied studies of entropy.” William Francis Giauque attended the Niagara Falls Collegiate Institute and after graduating he decided to pursue a career…
Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran and the Improvement of Spectroscopy

Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran and the Improvement of Spectroscopy

On April 18, 1838, French chemist Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran was born. Lecoq de Boisbaudran improved spectroscopic methods which had recently been developed by Paul Kirchhoff. Furthermore he is known for his discoveries of the chemical elements gallium, samarium and dysprosium. Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran belonged to the ancient Protestant nobility of Poitou and Angoumois, whose considerable fortune, however, disappeared after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Since the property…
Melvin Calvin and the Calvin Cycle

Melvin Calvin and the Calvin Cycle

On April 8, 1911, American biochemist Melvin Calvin was born. Calvin is best known for furthering our knowledge of the mechanism of photosynthesis with the discovery the Calvin cycle along with Andrew Benson and James Bassham, for which he was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Calvin was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of Elias Calvin and Rose Herwitz, immigrants from Russia. Originally, his father was from…
Peter Debye – Physical Chemist

Peter Debye – Physical Chemist

On March 24, 1884, Dutch-American physicist and physical chemist Peter Joseph William Debye was born. Debye’s investigations of dipole moments, X rays, and light scattering in gases brought him the 1936 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Most of his work was in chemical-physics with special interest in electrolytes and dipolar momentum analysis. He established a theory of specific heat with some improvements on that proposed by Einstein. Peter Debye attended the…
Hermann Staudinger and the Macromolecules

Hermann Staudinger and the Macromolecules

On March 23, 1881, German organic chemist Hermann Staudinger was born. Staudinger demonstrated the existence of macromolecules, which he characterized as polymers. For this work he received the 1953 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is also known for his discovery of ketenes and of the Staudinger reaction. Hermann Staudinger was born in Worms, Germany, the son of neo-Kantian philosopher Franz Staudinger. Staudinger studied at the Gymnasium in Worms. Then, after…
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