chemistry

Walther Nernst and the third Law of Thermodynamics

Walther Nernst and the third Law of Thermodynamics

On June 25, 1864, German physicist Walther Hermann Nernst was born. One of the founders of modern physical chemistry he is best known for his theories behind the calculation of chemical affinity as embodied in the third law of thermodynamics, for which he won the 1920 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Nernst contributed to electrochemistry, thermodynamics and solid state physics. He is also known for developing the Nernst equation. “No effect that requires…
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Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins and the Discovery of Vitamins

Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins and the Discovery of Vitamins

On June 20, 1861, English biochemist and Nobel Laureate Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins was born. He is best known for the discovery of essential nutrient factors, now known as vitamins, needed in animal diets to maintain health. He also discovered the amino acid tryptophan, in 1901. “A cell has a history; its structure is inherited, it grows, divides, and, as in the embryo of higher animals, the products of division differentiate on complex…
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Johann Joachim Becher and the Phlogiston Theory of Combustion

Johann Joachim Becher and the Phlogiston Theory of Combustion

On May 6, 1636, German physician, alchemist, precursor of chemistry, scholar and adventurer Johann Joachim Becher was born. He is best known for his development of the phlogiston theory of combustion, in which all flammable objects were supposed to contain a substance which was released when the object burned, and his advancement of Austrian cameralism. “The chemists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their…
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Wallace Hume Carothers and the Invention of Nylon

Wallace Hume Carothers and the Invention of Nylon

On April 27, 1896, American chemist and inventor Wallace Hume Carothers was born. He is credited with the invention of nylon, the first synthetic polymer fibre to be spun from a melt. Carothers produced this polyamide, by condensation of adipic acid and hexamethylenediamine working for the DuPont chemical company  as head of organic chemistry research. “Living in the midst of abundance we have the greatest difficulty in seeing that the supply of…
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Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus and the White Gold

Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus and the White Gold

On April 10, 1719, German mathematician, physicist, physician, and philosopher Ehrenfried Walter von Tschirnhaus was born. Among others, he is credited being the first European to discover the secret of the creation of porcelain in 1708. Certainly, the Meissen factory, established 1710 with its director Johann Friedrich Böttger, was the first to produce porcelain in Europe in large quantities and since the recipe was kept a trade secret by Böttger for his company, experiments…
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Ira Remsen and the Discovery of Saccharin

Ira Remsen and the Discovery of Saccharin

On February 10, 1846, American chemist Ira Remsen was born. Along with his student Constantin Fahlberg, Remsen discovered the artificial sweetener saccharin working on coal tar derivatives. “Be a physical chemist, an analytical chemist, an organic chemist, if you will; but above all, be a chemist.” – Ira Remsen, as quoted in [8] Ira Remsen – Early Years Ira Remsen was born in New York City. His parents were both descended from…
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Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen

Joseph Priestley and the Discovery of Oxygen

On February 6, 1804, English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and Liberal political theorist Joseph Priestley passed away. Being a rather prolific author with more than 150 works published, he is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen, having isolated it in its gaseous state, although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Antoine Lavoisier also have a claim to the discovery.[4,6] “It is known to all persons who are conversant in experimental…
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Ilya Prigogine and the Irreversibility of Time

Ilya Prigogine and the Irreversibility of Time

On January 25, 1917, Belgian physical chemist and Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine was born. He is noted for his work on dissipative structures, complex systems, and irreversibility. The main theme of Prigogine‘s work was the search for a better understanding of the role of time in the physical sciences and in biology. He attempted to reconcile a tendency in nature for disorder to increase with so-called “self-organisation“. “The problem of time in physics…
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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 department, in the Central-Val du Loire in France. Due to his early death of his father, a minor official at an…
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