Science Birthdays, December 6

Today is the birthday of Charles Hall, born in 1863, his chemistry teacher told him “Anyone discovering a cheap way to make aluminum would grow rich and famous.”  Hall made the discovery and became rich and famous.  He left 3 million dollars to his alma mater Oberlin College.  In the 1800s Aluminum was such a precious metal, it was used to cap the Washington Monument.

It is also the birthday of Nicolas Leblanc, born in 1742, he developed the Leblanc process to produce sodium hydroxide and sodium carbonate from salt and made soap on a large scale possible. He was awarded a prize by the French government, but it wasn’t paid. He was reduced to poverty because the French government forced him to make his process public without remuneration, as a result he killed himself in 1806 at age 64

Joseph Gay-Lussac, born in 1778, studied under Berthollet, Morveau and Fourcroy at the Ecole Polytechnique, he became friends with Berthollet and worked with his son in a chlorine factory, In 1802 he discovered as Jacques Charles had done that gases expand equally with temperature and he published it, Charles did not. Avogadro used this idea for his law. Gay-Lussac made a balloon flight to over four miles.

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