Google is Celebrating The 200th Robert Bunsen’s Birthday.


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Today, I opened the Google and it has a good picture of chemist tools. I was curious to know what did google do about their picture, so I checked myself. Today, March 31st, 2011 is the 200th birthday of Robert Bunsen. Robert Bunsen is the best known for his invention of the improved gas flame device which bears in his name : The Bunsen Burner. Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen was actually a German chemist. He investigated emission spectra of heated elements, and discovered caesium (in 1860) and rubidium (in 1861) with Gustav Kirchhoff. Bunsen developed several gas-analytical methods, was a pioneer in photochemistry, and did early work in the field of organoarsenic chemistry. With his laboratory assistant, Peter Desaga, he developed the Bunsen burner, an improvement on the laboratory burners then in use. The Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award for spectroscopy is named after Bunsen and Kirchhoff.

Bunsen was born on March 31, 1811 in Göttingen, Germany, the youngest of four sons. As his father was a professor of modern languages at the university, an academic environment would surround him from birth. After schooling in the city of Holzminden, Bunsen studied chemistry at Göttingen. Receiving his doctorate at age 19, Bunsen set off on extensive travels, partially underwritten by the government, that took him through Germany and Paris and eventually to Vienna from 1830 to 1833. During this time, Bunsen visited Henschel’s machinery manufacturing plant and saw the "new small steam engine." In Berlin, he saw the mineralogical collections of Weiss and had contact with Runge, the discoverer of aniline. Continuing on his journeys, Bunsen met with Liebig in Giessen and with Mitscherlich in Bonn for a geological trip through the Eifel mountains.

The essential piece of laboratory equipment that has immortalized the name of Robert Wilhelm Bunsen was not invented by him. Bunsen improved the burner’s to aid his endeavors in spectroscopy. Ironically, Bunsen will be remembered by generations of chemistry students for a mere improvement in a burner , when his other contributions to the field of chemistry are vastly more significant and diverse, covering such areas as organic chemistry, arsenic compounds, gas measurements and analysis, the galvanic battery, elemental spectroscopy and geology.

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Bunsen was one of the most universally admired scientists of his generation. He was a master teacher, devoted to his students, and they were equally devoted to him. At a time of vigorous and often caustic scientific debates, Bunsen always conducted himself as a perfect gentleman, maintaining his distance from theoretical disputes. He much preferred to work quietly in his laboratory, regularly enriching his science with useful discoveries. On a point of principle, he never took out a patent, despite the fact that his new battery and new laboratory burner would surely have brought him great wealth. Bunsen never married. When Bunsen retired at the age of 78, he shifted his work solely to geology and mineralogy, an interest which he had pursued throughout his career. He died in Heidelberg aged 88.

 

References :

http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/Biographies/BunsenBio.htm

http://www.woodrow.org/teachers/ci/1992/Bunsen.html

http://www.chemheritage.org/classroom/chemach/periodic/bunsen-kirchhoff.html

http://www.nndb.com/people/900/000095615/

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