chemistry

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 Cornell University…
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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 was born…
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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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Harold Urey and the famous Miller–Urey experiment

Harold Urey and the famous Miller–Urey experiment

On April 29, 1893, American physical chemist and Nobel Laureatev Harold C. Urey was born. He played a significant role in the development of the atom bomb, but may be most prominent for his contribution to theories on the development of organic life from non-living matter. Harold Clayton Urey entered the University of Montana in 1914 and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology in 1917. A few years later, he returned…
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Franz Achard and the Sugar Beet Revolution

Franz Achard and the Sugar Beet Revolution

On April 28, 1753, German (Prussian) chemist, physicist and biologist Franz Carl Achard was born. Achard‘s principal discovery was the production of sugar from sugar beets. In 1802, Achard opened the world’s first sugar producing industry plant in Prussia. Just imagine, the world harvested 250,191,362 metric tons of sugar beets in 2013, with Russia being the world’s largest producer. And only about 20% of the world‘s sugar production comes out of sugar…
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Ernest Solvay and his Love for Physics

Ernest Solvay and his Love for Physics

On April 16, 1838, Belgian chemist, industrialist and philanthropist Ernest Gaston Joseph Solvay was born. Solvay invented the Solvay Process (1863), a commercially viable ammonia-soda process for producing soda ash (sodium carbonate), widely used in the manufacture of such products as glass and soap. In 1911, he began a series of important conferences in physics, known as the Solvay Conferences, whose participants included luminaries such as Max Planck, Ernest Rutherford, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Henri…
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Sidney W. Fox Researching the Origins of Life

Sidney W. Fox Researching the Origins of Life

On March 24, 1912, American biochemist Sidney W. Fox was born. In search for the origins of life, Fox explored the synthesis of amino acids from inorganic molecules, the synthesis of proteinous amino acids and amino acid polymers called “proteinoids” from inorganic molecules and thermal energy, and created what he thought was the world‘s first protocell out of proteinoids and water. Sidney Fox was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Jacob…
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John Randall and the Cavity Magnetron

John Randall and the Cavity Magnetron

On March 23, 1905, British physicist and biophysicist Sir John Randall was born. Randall is credited with radical improvement of the cavity magnetron, an essential component of centimetric wavelength radar, which was one of the keys to the Allied victory in the Second World War. It is also the key component of microwave ovens. He also led the King’s College, London team which worked on the structure of DNA. John Randall was…
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Johann Rudolf Glauber – the first Chemical Engineer

Johann Rudolf Glauber – the first Chemical Engineer

On March 10, 1604, German-Dutch alchemist and chemist Johann Rudolf Glauber was born. His discovery of sodium sulfate in 1625 led to the compound being named after him: “Glauber‘s salt“. He also noted the formation of nitric acid from potassium nitrate and sulphuric acid. Glauber prepared many substances, made useful observations on dyeing, and described the preparation of tartar emetic. Early Years Johann Rudolf Glauber was born in Karlstadt am Main, the Kingdom…
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Harry Coover and the Invention of Super Glue

Harry Coover and the Invention of Super Glue

On March 6, 1917, American chemist and inventor Harry Wesley Coover Jr was born. He is best known for having invented Eastman 910, better known as super glue. Super Glue is based on cyanoacrylates, a family of strong fast-acting adhesives with industrial, medical, and household uses. Harry Coover was born in Newark, Delaware, and attended Hobart College, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. For his later studied, Coover moved to Cornell University…
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