Archive for Chemistry

Michael Faraday

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 Michael Faraday
Born: 22 September 1791, Newington Butts, England.
Died: 25 August 1867, Hampton Court, England
Fields: Physics, Chemistry

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Biography 

Despite having almost no formal education, Michael Faraday was one of the most influential people in the history of science thanks to his contributions to the study of magnetism. He is the most well known for having formulated the concept of an electromagnetic field, laying the foundation for electric motor technology and essentially making electricity practical for use in technology. As a chemist, he invented the precursor to the Bunsen burner and is credited with the discovery of benzene, along with some other contributions that eventually made him the Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Faraday’s reputation as an experimentalist made him an inspiration to other scientists that came after him. Albert Einstein, for example, had a picture of Faraday hanging next to Isaac Newton and  James Clerk Maxwell. Physicist Earnest Rutherford, the man who first split the atom, referred to Faraday as “ one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time”.

Faraday is said to have seen faith as a vital part of his research and was an advocate of co-existence between science and religion. The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion was named in his honor with a mission to promote understanding within the two. He has been honored in many ways, especially in his native England, with numerous statues and educational facilities named after him. British 20 pound notes issued prior to 2001 had a portrait of Faraday and a visual of him giving a lecture on the back. Streets named after him are found in England, France, Germany and the United States.

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Categories : Chemistry, Physics
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Earnest Rutherford

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 Earnest Rutherford
Born: August 30, 1871 in Brightwater, New Zeland
Died: 19 October 1937 in Cambridge, England
Fields: Physics, Chemistry

Biography - Awards - Books

Biography 

Earnest Rutherford was physicist born in New Zealand. He is considered by many to be the father of nuclear physics, having established the structure of the atom and the concept of radioactive decay.

Even though Rutherford died before controlled nuclear chain reactions i.e. nuclear power came to existence, Leo Szilard, the Hungarian American physicist responsible for its introduction, stated that his thinking was inspired by his speech on nuclear transmutation published in the Times. The nuclear transmutation of one element into another and differentiation between alpha and beta radiation was the foundation of the work that got Rutherford a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908.

Rutherford’s most famous accomplishment is his 1917 splitting of the atom, where his theory about a nucleus being at the center of the atom was confirmed. He also discovered and named the proton. While working with Niels Bohr in 1921, he theorized about the existence of neutrally charged particles within the atom, which he dubbed neutrons. This theory was proven by his associate James Chadwick, earning him a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1935.

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Alfred Nobel

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 Alfred Nobel
Born: 21 October 1833
Stockholm, Sweden
Died: 10 December 1896 (aged 63) Sanremo, Italy
Fields: Chemistry, Engineering

Biography - Awards - Books

Biography 

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, inventor, engineer, entrepreneur  and weapons manufacturer. He is best known for the Nobel Prize, awarded for achievements in the fields of  Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Peace. An award for Economics exists as well, but is called the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and was created as an homage to Nobel, not by Nobel himself.

Nobel’s most controversial invention was dynamite, which plays a big part in how the Prizes came to existence. After Nobel’s brother Ludvig’s death while visiting Cannes in 1888, a French newspaper published an erroneous obituary, thinking it was Nobel himself. The obituary condemned him for the invention of dynamite, stating  ”Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” After reading the obituary, Nobel became concerned with his legacy, which eventually led to the creation of the Prizes.
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Categories : Chemistry, Engineering
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Dmitry Mendeleev

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 Dmitri Mendeleev
Born: 18 Feb 1834 in Verkhnie Aremzyani, Russian Empire
Died: 2 Feb 1907, St Petersburg, Russian Empire
Fields: Physics, Chemistry

Biography - Awards - Books

Biography 

Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev was a Russian chemist and inventor, credited with the creation of the first version of the periodic table of elements in the 1860s. German chemist Lothar Meyer’s table of elements was published only a few short months after Mendeleev’s, so there are some who consider them independent co-creators. Despite that, the bulk of the credit is still given to Mendeleev. He was in line for a Nobel Prize for the table, but was passed up for Henri Moissan and his work on separating flourine from its compounds. It is widely believed that Svante Arrhenius had a grudge against Mendeleev over the latter’s criticism of his dissipation theory, resulting in Arrhenius using his influence over the Nobel Committee to get majority vote for Moissan. Read More→

Categories : Chemistry, Physics
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