Famous Chemistry Scientists
The humble beginnings of the chemist
A few chemists of notable influence.
Robert Bunsen 1811~1899 - The Bunsen burner
Alfred Nobel 1833~1896 - Inventor of the dynamite
Marie Curie 1867~1934 - Research in Radium and Radioactivity
Influential Figures from our secondary school textbooks
In the Singapore lower secondary school syllabus, we are first taught to understand the model of matter, microscopic elements that constitute our world and material existence. Have you ever heard of this chemistry pick-up line, "Hey! i've got my ion you!". This is undoubtedly a reference from the world of atoms, ions and molecules.
This talk of atoms, ions and molecules begs the question, what does a chemist do? Who are the great chemistry scientists? Without further ado, this post shall introduce a few figures to inform your inquisitive minds.
Avogadro is chiefly remembered for his molecular hypothesis, first stated in 1811. In relation to his hypothesis he derived at the following relationship:Weight of 1 volume of gas or vapour/Weight of 1 volume of hydrogen = Weight of 1 molecule of gas or vapour/Weight of 1 molecule of hydrogen.
While this may seem to be a simple equation, it is an important step for Avogadro to establish other forms of relations. Despite his efforts, many factors account for the fact that Avogadro’s hypothesis was generally ignored until after his death. First, the distinction between atoms and molecules was not generally understood. Furthermore, as similar atoms were thought to repel one another, the existence of polyatomic elementary molecules seemed unlikely. The following are the discoveries of Avogadro :
"To distinguish between atoms and molecules of different kinds, Avogadro adopted terms including molécule intégrante (the molecule of a compound), molécule constituante (the molecule of an element), and molécule élémentaire (atom). Although his gaseous elementary molecules were predominantly diatomic, he also recognized the existence of monatomic, triatomic, and tetratomic elementary molecules. In 1811 he provided the correct molecular formula for water, nitric and nitrous oxides, ammonia, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen chloride. Three years later he described the formulas for carbon dioxide, carbon disulfide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. He also applied his hypothesis to metals and assigned atomic weights to 17 metallic elements based upon analyses of particular compounds that they formed. However, his references to gaz métalliques may have actually delayed chemists’ acceptance of his ideas. In 1821 he offered the correct formula for alcohol (C2H6O) and for ether (C4H10O)." - Brittanica.com
Simply put, while many scientists have participated in the journey of the discovery of elements, Avogadro could be argued to be one of the first to uncover them with sufficient mathematical precision and experimentation.
Now to answer the question, what does a chemist do?
A chemist is a person that studies the atoms, elements, compounds and molecules. Avogadro is a prime example of a chemist at its most fundamental form.
Robert Bunsen - The Bunsen burner
As an integral approach towards holistic chemistry understanding, most Singapore science students are required to operate the Bunsen burner as a practical experiment. These experiments may be to create acidic or alkaline solutions or to observe chemical reactions.
Its founder, Robert Bunsen observed that each element emits a light of characteristic wavelength. Such studies opened the field of spectrum analysis, which became of great importance in the study of the Sun and stars and also led Bunsen almost immediately to his discovery of two alkali-group metals, cesium and rubidium.
In fact, he is also known to have invented the carbon-zinc electric cell (battery), the filter pump (1868), the ice calorimeter (1870), and the vapour calorimeter (1887).
Just like Amedeo Avogaro, Bunsen delves into the exploration of elements, more importantly, he is also the answer to the second question, who are great chemistry scientists?
Great chemistry scientists are not only credited for their discoveries, they are also credited as inventors of equipments that play a major function in our daily lives. Indeed, such inventions are a step towards advancements and intellectual understanding of the world around us.
Alfred Nobel - Inventor of the dynamite
Perhaps the most known amongst this list of chemists, Alfred Nobel was born on 10 December 1896.
"He was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. He is best known for having bequeathed his fortune to establish the Nobel Prize, though he also made several important contributions to science, holding 355 patents in his lifetime. Nobel's most famous invention was dynamite, a safer and easier means of harnessing the explosive power of nitroglycerin; it was patented in 1867 and was soon used worldwide for mining and infrastructure development." - Brittanica.com
Nobel was a figure of the century, he displayed an aptitude for science, chemistry and languages; he became fluent in six languages and filed his first patent at age 24.
Apart from his feats in chemistry, inventions and languages, Nobel was interested in the greater benefit towards mankind. Ultimately, it has led to the creation of the Nobel Prize which we have come to appreciate.
Marie Curie - Researched in Radium and Radioactivity
To end off this short list of famous chemistry scientists, Marie Curie is a figure that would inspire the use of chemistry to heal the human body.
"The discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in 1896 inspired the Curies in their brilliant researches and analyses which led to the isolation of polonium, named after the country of Marie’s birth, and radium. Mme. Curie developed methods for the separation of radium from radioactive residues in sufficient quantities to allow for its characterization and the careful study of its properties, therapeutic properties in particular." - Brittanica.com
While previous predecessors placed a focus on the practical usage of chemistry, the Curie's ability to use radium as a treatment contributed to the medical industry. In such instances, misconceptions of chemistry as being of an entirely different purpose from biology or physics is proven to be untrue. All sciences are important and work together to form a complete understanding of the human capacity and the mechanics of the world around us.
Upon comprehending the above list of chemists, it is conclusive that there are many functions to chemistry. The routes of exploration are diverse and endless. To specialise in any form of chemistry, a strong foundational understanding is required. For example, all of the mentioned chemists have to be well-versed in the periodic table before they can attempt at proving a hypothesis. At Achievers Dream, we strive to teach these concepts to students with high hopes that they can achieve great dreams and goals.
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