chemistry

Amadeo Avogadro and Avogadro’s Law

Amadeo Avogadro and Avogadro’s Law

On August 9, 1776, Italian scientist Lorenzo Romano Amedeo Carlo Avogadro, Conte di Quaregna e Cerreto was born. He is most noted for his contribution to molecular theory now known as Avogadro’s law, which states that equal volumes of gases under the same conditions of temperature and pressure will contain equal numbers of molecules. In tribute to him, the number of elementary entities (atoms, molecules, ions or other particles) in…
Benjamin Silliman and the 1807 Meteor

Benjamin Silliman and the 1807 Meteor

On August 8, 1779, early American chemist and science educator Benjamin Silliman was born. He was one of the first American professors of science, at Yale College, the first person to distill petroleum in America, and a founder of the American Journal of Science, the oldest continuously published scientific journal in the United States. Silliman best known for researching the chemical composition of a meteorite that fell in 1807, his…
Leopold Gmelin and the Chemistry of Digestion

Leopold Gmelin and the Chemistry of Digestion

On August 2, 1788, German chemist Leopold Gmelin was born. Gmelin discovered potassium ferrocyanide (1822), devised Gmelin‘s test for bile pigments and researched the chemistry of digestion. He published the notable Handbook of Chemistry to comprehensively survey the subject. This was the first thorough update since the era of Lavoisier‘s influence. He also coined the names ester, ketone and racemic acid. Gmelin was born in Göttingen, Germany, the son of the…
Vincent Joseph Schaefer and the Cloud Seeding

Vincent Joseph Schaefer and the Cloud Seeding

On July 4, 1906, American chemist and meteorologist Vincent Joseph Schaefer was born. Schaefer is best known for his research in meteorology and weather control introduced cloud seeding. On 13 Nov 1946, he flew over Mount Greylock in Massachusetts, successfully seeding clouds with pellets of dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) to produce the first snowstorm initiated by man. During his 20s, Vincent Schaefer began to built up a personal library…
Stephen Mouton Babcock and the Babcock Test

Stephen Mouton Babcock and the Babcock Test

On July 2, 1931, American agricultural chemist Stephen Moulton Babcock passed away. He is best known for his Babcock test in determining dairy butterfat in milk processing, for cheese processing, and for the “single-grain experiment” that led to the development of nutritional science as a recognized discipline. He worked for 43 years at the University of Wisconsin, where he established a laboratory where he carried out pioneering research in nutrition…
James Smithson’s Last Will

James Smithson’s Last Will

On June 27, 1829, English chemist and mineralogist James Smithson passed away, whose bequest of substantial funds in his will established the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”, despite having never visited the United States. James Smithson was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford and earned his Master’s degree in 1786. Smithson traveled throughout Europe and participated in geological expeditions with Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond, William…
Jean-Antoine Chaptal and the Industrial Chemistry

Jean-Antoine Chaptal and the Industrial Chemistry

On June 5, 1756, French chemist, physician, agronomist, industrialist, statesman, educator and philanthropist Jean-Antoine Chaptal, comte de Chanteloup was born. Chaptal authored the first book on industrial chemistry and also coined the name “nitrogen. He was the first to produce sulphuric acid commercially in France at his factory at Montpellier and helped to organize the introduction of the metric system. Jean-Antoine Chaptal studied medicine at the medical school at the…
Thomas Midgley Jr. and the Development of Leaded Fuel

Thomas Midgley Jr. and the Development of Leaded Fuel

On May 18, 1889, American mechanical engineer and chemist Thomas Midgley Jr. was born. Midgley was a key figure in a team of chemists, led by Charles F. Kettering, that developed the tetraethyllead (TEL) additive to gasoline as well as some of the first chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Over the course of his career, Midgley was granted over a hundred patents. Thomas Midgley Jr. grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from…
Thomas Wedgwood – possibly the First Photographer

Thomas Wedgwood – possibly the First Photographer

On May 14, 1771, early experimenter in the field of photography Thomas Wedgwood was born. He is the first person known to have thought of creating impermanent pictures by capturing camera images on material coated with a light-sensitive chemical. His practical experiments yielded only shadow image photograms that were not light-fast, but his conceptual breakthrough and partial success have led some historians to call him “the first photographer”. Thomas Wedgwood…
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…
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