chemistry

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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Dorothy Hodgkin and the Structure of Penicilin

Dorothy Hodgkin and the Structure of Penicilin

On July 29, 1994, British chemist and Nobel Laureate Dorothy Mary Hodgkin passed away. She advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography, a method used to determine the three-dimensional structures of biomolecules. Among her most influential discoveries are the confirmation of the structure of penicillin. “Would it not be better if one could really ‘see’ whether molecules…were just as experiments suggested?” – Dorothy Hodgkin, as quoted in [11] Dorothy Hodgkin Background Dorothy Crowfoot (later Hodgkin) was the…
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Rosalind Franklin and the Beauty of the DNA Structure

Rosalind Franklin and the Beauty of the DNA Structure

On July 25, 1920, British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born. She made the first clear X-ray images of DNA’s structure. Her work was described as the most beautiful X-ray photographs ever taken. Franklin’s ‘Photo 51’ informed Crick and Watson [5] of DNA’s double helix structure for which they were awarded a Nobel Prize. Rosalind Franklin – Early Years Rosalind Franklin was born in Notting Hill, London, as the second of five…
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August Kekulé and the Carbon Ring Structure

August Kekulé and the Carbon Ring Structure

On July 13, 1896, German organic chemist Friedrich August Kekulé passed away. Being one of the world’s leading chemists of his time, he is best known for devising the ring structure of carbon atoms in organic molecules and became the principal founder of the theory of chemical structure. August Kekulé Background August Kekulé was born on September 7, 1829 in Darmstadt as son of a civil servant. After graduating from secondary school, in 1847…
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Ernst Boris Chain and his Research on Antibiotics

Ernst Boris Chain and his Research on Antibiotics

On June 19, 1906, German-born British biochemist and Nobel Laureate Sir Ernst Boris Chain was born. He is best known for being one of the founders of chemical and medical research on antibiotics, esp. on Penicillinum. “Science, as long as it limits itself to the descriptive study of the laws of nature, has no moral or ethical quality and this applies to the physical as well as the biological sciences.” (Sir Ernst Boris Chain,…
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