Science Birthdays, September 8

Today is the birthday of Derek Barton, born in 1918, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Odd Hassel for his contributions to the development of the concept of the conformational isomers. He died in 1998 at the age of 80.

Viktor Meyer, born in 1848, is best known for inventing an apparatus for determining vapour densities, the Viktor Meyer apparatus, and for discovering thiophene, a heterocyclic compound. He is sometimes referred to as Victor Meyer, a name used in some of his publications. Overworked and overtaxed, Meyer’s nervous system suffered, leading to several minor and major nervous breakdowns during the last years of his life. He always failed to recover completely, yet continued working. He took pills to fall asleep, but these had a damaging effect on his nervous system. In one of his depressions, Meyer decided to take his own life, and committed suicide by taking cyanide. He died at the age of 49 during the night of August 7 – August 8, 1897 in Heidelberg. It was a shock to others as Meyer was considered a highly gifted scientist by his colleagues, and a very talented teacher by his students.

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