chemistry

Dorothy Hodgkin and the Structure of Penicilin

Dorothy Hodgkin and the Structure of Penicilin

Dorothy Hodgkin (1910 – 1994) 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. Dorothy Crowfoot’s (late Hodgkin’s) interest in chemistry started around the age of only 10. Her parents were involved in education projects in Egypt and Sudan…
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Rosalind Franklin and the Beauty of the DNA Structure

Rosalind Franklin and the Beauty of the DNA Structure

Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958) 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 of DNA’s double helix structure for which they were awarded a Nobel Prize. Rosalind Franklin was born in Notting Hill, London, as the second of five children into…
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August Kekulé and the Carbon Ring Structure

August Kekulé and the Carbon Ring Structure

August Kekulé (1829 – 1896) 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 was born on September 7, 1829 in Darmstadt as son of a civil servant. After graduating from secondary school,…
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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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Robert Mulliken and the Molecular Orbitals

Robert Mulliken and the Molecular Orbitals

On June 7, 1896, American physicist, chemist, and Nobel Laureate Robert Sonderson Mulliken was born. He is primarily responsible for the early development of molecular orbital theory, i.e. the elaboration of the molecular orbital method of computing the structure of molecules. “…the more accurate the calculations became, the more the concepts tended to vanish into thin air.” — Robert Mulliken, about using old-fashioned chemistry to describe molecular structure, in Molecular Scientists and…
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Mary the Jewess and the Origins of Chemistry

Mary the Jewess and the Origins of Chemistry

Mary the Jewess (also known as Maria Prophetissima or Miriam the Prophetess) is a figure who first appeared in the works of the Gnostic Christian writer Zosimos of Panopolis, whose sources for this are not clear. On the basis of Zosimos’s comments, she lived between the first and third centuries A.D. She is credited with the invention of several kinds of chemical apparatus and is considered to be the first true alchemist of the…
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Justus von Liebig and the Agricultural Revolution

Justus von Liebig and the Agricultural Revolution

On May 12, 1803, German chemist Justus Freiherr von Liebig was born, who made major contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry. He is probably best known as the “father of the fertilizer industry” for his discovery of nitrogen as an essential plant nutrient. Justus Liebig’s father was also a chemist and he began his experiments with his father’s equipment in very early childhood years. Even though Justus Liebig was a curious student,…
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