chemistry

Charles Coulson and the Molecular Orbital Theory

Charles Coulson and the Molecular Orbital Theory

On December 13, 1910, British applied mathematician and theoretical chemist Charles Coulson was born. Coulson was as a pioneer of the application of the quantum theory of valency to problems of molecular structure, dynamics and reactivity. He is known for the application of molecular orbital theory to chemical bonding, the electronic structures of molecules and the concept of partial valency, and developed many mathematical techniques for solving chemical and physical problems. Charles…
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Lars Onsager and Irreversible Chemical Processes

Lars Onsager and Irreversible Chemical Processes

On November 27, 1903, Norwegian-born American physical chemist and theoretical physicist Lars Onsager was born. The development of a general theory of irreversible chemical processes gained him the 1968 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. These Onsager reciprocal relations have importance in a wide range of applications. Education Lars Onsager was born in Kristiania (today’s Oslo), Norway, to Erling Onsager, a Barrister of the Supreme Court of Norway, and Ingrid, née Kirkeby. After completing…
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Charles-Adolphe Wurtz and the Atomic Theory

Charles-Adolphe Wurtz and the Atomic Theory

On November 26, 1817, Alsatian French chemist and educator Charles-Adolphe Wurtz was born. Wurtz is best remembered for his decades-long advocacy for the atomic theory and for ideas about the structures of chemical compounds, against the skeptical opinions of chemists such as Marcellin Berthelot and Etienne Henri Sainte-Claire Deville. He is well known by organic chemists for the Wurtz reaction, to form carbon-carbon bonds by reacting alkyl halides with sodium, and for…
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Elmer McCollum and the Vitamins

Elmer McCollum and the Vitamins

On November 15, 1967, American biochemist Elmer McCollum passed away. McCollum is known for his work on the influence of diet on health. Together with Marguerite Davis McCollum discovered the first vitamin, named A, in 1913. He also helped to discover vitamin B and vitamin D and worked out the effect of trace elements in the diet. In 1903, Elmer McCollum graduated from the University of Kansas. He secured a scholarship to…
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Nathaniel Wyeth and the PET Bottle

Nathaniel Wyeth and the PET Bottle

On October 24, 1911, American mechanical engineer and inventor Nathaniel C. Wyeth was born. Wyeth is best known for creating polyethylene terephthalate that could withstand the pressure of carbonated liquids. Made of recyclable PET plastic, lighter than glass and virtually unbreakable, Wyeth’s invention is used widely today for both carbonated and non-carbonated drinks. Nathaniel Wyeth was the brother of the painters Andrew Wyeth and Henriette Wyeth Hurd as well as the son…
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Harold Kroto and the Fullerenes

Harold Kroto and the Fullerenes

On October 7, 1939, English chemist and Nobel Laureate Sir Harold Walter Kroto was born. Kroto shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley [6] for their discovery of fullerenes, i.e. molecules of carbon in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, tube, and many other shapes, which have been the subject of intense research, both for their unique chemistry and for their technological applications, especially in…
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Francis William Aston and the Mass Spectrograph

Francis William Aston and the Mass Spectrograph

On September 1, 1877, English chemist, physicist, and Nobel Laureate Francis William Aston was born. Aston won the 1922 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery, by means of his mass spectrograph, of isotopes, in a large number of non-radioactive elements, and for his enunciation of the whole number rule. Francis William Aston was born in Harborne, now part of Birmingham, UK, as the third child and second son of William Aston and Fanny…
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Christian Friedrich Schönbein – Ozone and Explosives

Christian Friedrich Schönbein – Ozone and Explosives

On August 29, 1868, German-Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein passed away. Schönbein is best known for inventing the fuel cell (1838) at the same time as William Robert Grove and his discoveries of guncotton and ozone, of which he also coined its name. Christian Friedrich Schönbein came from a Pietist family, his father was a dyer, postman and accountant. He was apprenticed to a chemical and pharmaceutical firm at Böblingen when he was…
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Amadeo Avogadro – Relating Volumes to Quantities and Avogadro’s Law

Amadeo Avogadro – Relating Volumes to Quantities 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 1 mole…
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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 report being…
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