Category Archives: Scientist’s Birthdays

Science Birthdays, December 11

Today is the birthday of Robert Koch, born in 1843, he is considered one of the founders of microbiology, He developed Koch’s Postulates, which established a relationship between microorganisms and disease. He isolated Bacillus anthracis, Tuberculosis bacillus, and Vibrio cholerae bacteria.

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Science Birthdays, December 10

Today is the birthday of Howard Temin, born in 1934, he discovered the enzyme reverse transcriptase, which upset the widely held belief of Central Dogma described by Francis Crick.  Crick was one of the co-discoverers of DNA and said that the flow of genetic information was from DNA to RNA to protein and never in reverse.  Reverse transcriptase carries that information in reverse.

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Science Birthdays, December 9

Today is the birthday of Claude Berthollet, born in 1748, he showed how chlorine could be used for beaching in 1785, he met Napoleon in 1798 and taught him chemistry, in 1803 he showed that the rate of a chemical reaction was due to more than just the affinities alone. He along with Antonine Lavoisier developed a chemical nomenclature or system of names for naming chemical compounds. He also determined the composition of ammonia.  Potassium chlorate (one of my favorite compounds) is called Berthollet’s salt after him.

Karl Scheele, born 1742, apprenticed to an apothecary at age 14 because he was one of 11 children. He taught himself chemistry. He discovered tartaric acid, citric acid, benzoic acid, malic acid, oxalic acid, galic acid, lactic acid, uric acid, molybdic acid, arsenious acid, he was involved in the discovery of Chlorine, manganese, barium, molybdenum, tungsten, nitrogen, and oxygen, however he does not get credit for any of their discoveries. He actually discovered oxygen before Priestley but his published didn’t publish the book in time. He was not healthy and had rheumatism. He did not have any social life, and only got married when he was ready to die at age 43 which was hastened by his habit of tasting his chemical compounds.             

Fritz Haber, born 1868, studied under Hoffman and developed the glass electrode used on ph meters. He also studied under Bunsen so he studied gas reactions. He developed the Haber process in 1908 and then went on to develop poison gases.  He was so patriotic he tried to find a way of extracting gold from seawater to pay off Germanys reparations. When Hitler came to power he had to leave his beloved Germany because he was Jewish.

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Science Birthdays, December 8

Today is the birthday of Jan Ingenhouz, born in 1730, he discovered photosynthesis when he showed in 1779 that plants take up carbon dioxide only in the light and give off carbon dioxide and use up oxygen in the dark. He successfully inoculated members of the Habsburg family against smallpox. He probably discovered Brownian motion before Brownian because he described the motion of coal dust on the surface of alcohol. He also introduced the use of cover slips on glass slides.
Whitney Eli, born in 1765, inventor invented the cotton gin in 1793 and interchangeable parts in 1798, the cotton gin might have played a role in the Civil War because slavery was dying out before the cotton gin made cotton big business. Whitney did not prosper from the cotton gin but became rich with interchangeable parts and division of labor

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Science Birthdays, December 7

Today is the birthday of Theodor Schwann, born in 1810, he discovered pepsin in 1836, it was then called a ferment, in 1839 he elaborated on the existing cell theory proposed by Mathias Schleiden, and said all things are made of cells, he called it the cell theory, It is sometimes called the Schleiden and Schwann Cell Theory, he also coined the term metabolism

Gerard Kuiper, born in 1905, detected carbon dioxide on mars in 1948, and showed the ice caps were ice, he discovered an atmosphere on Titan, discovered Miranda, Nereid, proposed a theory in 1951 that planets were formed from protoplanets.

12/7/1823        Kronecker Leopold     mathematician made a lot of money in business so he could turn to math. He made the statement “God made the integers, all else is the work of man”.

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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.

 

12/6/1900        Uhlenbeck George      physicist          demonstrated the electron spin quantum number

12/6/1920        Porter, George             chemist            worked on ultra-fast chemical reactions

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Science Birthdays, December 5

Today is the birthday of Werner Heisenberg, born in 1901, he is best known for the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle which maintains that it is impossible to know simultaneously both the position and momentum of a particle the size of an electron.  Heisenberg was also an accomplished pianist and mountaineer.

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