chemistry

Jan Baptist van Helmont – The Founder of Pneumatic Chemistry

Jan Baptist van Helmont – The Founder of Pneumatic Chemistry

On January 12, 1580, Flemish chemist, physiologist, and physician Jan Baptist van Helmont was born. Can Helmont worked during the years just after Paracelsus and is sometimes considered to be “the founder of pneumatic chemistry“. Van Helmont is remembered today largely for his ideas on spontaneous generation and his introduction of the word “gas” (from the Greek word chaos) into the vocabulary of scientists. “I praise my bountiful God, who hath called…
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Nicolas Leblanc and the Leblanc Process

Nicolas Leblanc and the Leblanc Process

On December 6, 1742, French chemist and surgeon Nicolas Leblanc was born, who discovered how to manufacture soda from common salt. The eponymous Leblanc process became one of the most important industrial processes of the 19th century. Nicolas Leblanc – Early Life Nicolas Leblanc was born in Ivoy le Pré, Cher, France. Due to his early death of his father, a minor official at an iron works, Nicolas Leblanc was sent to the…
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Plastic Fantastic – Leo Baekeland and the Beginning of the Plastic Age

Plastic Fantastic – Leo Baekeland and the Beginning of the Plastic Age

On November 14, 1863, Belgian-born American chemist Leo Henricus Arthur Baekeland was born. His invention of Bakelite, an inexpensive, nonflammable, versatile, and popular plastic, marked the beginning of the modern plastics industry. Back in the eighties and nineties, the phrase plastic-fantastic was coined to describe a cheap item that more than often broke when you started using it because the early day plastic was so brittle. However, bakelite was different… The Velox Photography Paper The…
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Adolf von Baeyer and the Synthesis of Indigo

Adolf von Baeyer and the Synthesis of Indigo

Adolf von Baeyer (1835 – 1917) On October 31, 1835, German chemist and Nobel Laureate Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer was born. He was the first who succeeded with the synthesis of indigo (1880) and formulated its structure (1883), for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1905. Adolf von Baeyer – Academic Career Adolf Baeyer was a son of the officer and geodesist Johann Jacob Baeyer and Eugenie…
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Henry Cavendish and the Weight of the Earth

Henry Cavendish and the Weight of the Earth

On October 10, 1731, British natural philosopher Henry Cavendish was born. A scientist as well as an important experimental and theoretical chemist and physicist, Cavendish is noted for his discovery of hydrogen or what he called “inflammable air“. Most notably, he determined the mass and density of the Earth. Henry Cavendish Henry Cavendish was born in Nice and attended a private school near London. He enrolled the University of Cambridge, but left without…
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Sir William Ramsay and the Discovery of Noble Gases

Sir William Ramsay and the Discovery of Noble Gases

On October 2, 1852, Scottish chemist Sir William Ramsay was born. Ramsay discovered the noble gases and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904 “in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air” along with his collaborator, John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics that same year for their discovery of argon.[1] “But I am leaving the regions of…
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Joseph Proust and the Law of Constant Composition

Joseph Proust and the Law of Constant Composition

On September 26, 1754, French chemist Joseph Louis Proust was born. He was best known for his discovery of the law of constant composition in 1799, stating that in chemical reactions matter is neither created nor destroyed. A Young Chemist Joseph L. Proust was born on September 26, 1754 in Angers, France as the second son of Joseph Proust, an apothecary, and Rosalie Sartre. Joseph studied chemistry in his father’s shop and later came to…
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John Dalton and the Origins of the Atomic Theory

John Dalton and the Origins of the Atomic Theory

On September 6, 1766, English chemist, meteorologist and physicist John Dalton was born. He is best known for his pioneering work in the development of modern atomic theory, and his research into colour blindness. He also recognised that the aurora borealis was an electrical phenomenon. “Philosophers are generally persuaded, that the sensations of heat and cold are occasioned by the presence or absence, in degree, of certain principle or quality denominated fire or…
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Jöns Jacob Berzelius – One of the Founders of Modern Chemistry

Jöns Jacob Berzelius – One of the Founders of Modern Chemistry

On August 20, 1779, Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius was born. Berzelius is considered, along with Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Antoine Lavoisier, to be one of the founders of modern chemistry. In Sweden, Berzelius Day is celebrated on 20 August in honor of him. “Every chemical combination is wholly and solely dependent on two opposing forces, positive and negative electricity, and every chemical compound must be composed of two parts combined by…
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Stephanie Kwolek and the Bullet-proof Vests

Stephanie Kwolek and the Bullet-proof Vests

On July 31, 1923, American polymer chemist Stephanie Louise Kwolek was born. She is best known for her invention of poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide – better known as Kevlar. Stephanie Kwolek – Becoming a Chemist Stephanie Kwolek was born to Polish immigrant parents in the Pittsburgh suburb of New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Her father, John Kwolek died when she was ten years old. She inherited her love for fabrics and sewing from her mother. Before thinking…
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