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4 January

1775: Benjamin Rush began series of lectures on chemistry for the people of Philadelphia (US).

1891: Herbert Henry Dow, founder of Dow Chemical, prepared bromine from brine.

19th century X-ray machine

1896: During a memorable meeting of the Berlin Physical Society, Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen announced the discover of rays of great penetrating power, which, “since I can give no explanation of these mysterious emanations, I propose to call X-rays.”

1930: Ernest Lawrence at the University of California completed building the first magnetic resonance particle accelerator -cyclotron, Between the poles of an electromagnet was a vacuum chamber only 4 inch in diameter. In this were two D-shaped insulated electrodes connected to a high frequency

Ernest Lawrence

alternating current. Down the centre ran a tungsten filament. The rest of the machine was constructed of glass and red sealing wax. With the help of N E Edlefsen, his first graduate assistant, he succeeded in getting actual resonance effects. Lawrence’s idea of rapidly accelerating charged particles in a circular path under the influence of a powerful electromagnetic by repeated electrical kicks every half circumference and made his first public announcement of the machine and method 8 months later. For this work, Lawrence, aged just 29, was made a full professor. He had created a new tool for science and added a new word to the dictionary. The New York Times wrote: “The pioneers in experimental physics have always had to devise their own instruments of investigation. Men like Faraday, Hertz, and Helmholtz are not listed among the great inventors. For the servants of science invent as a matter of course, rarely take out patents, and concentrate on research……. If Lawrence were what is called a practical inventor and his cyclotron were of any immediate commercial use, he would take his place beside Watt, Arkwright, Bell, Edison and Marconi, which would probably exasperate rather than flatter him.”

Born on This Day

1737: Louis Bernard Guyton de Morveau: French chemist, politician, and aeronaut. He is credited with producing the first systematic method of chemical nomenclature. 

1874: John Edgar Temple: American industrial chemistry and chemical economics. He served as President of The Chemists’ Club from 1921-1922 and received the Perkin Medal in 1927 for his work on potash during World War I.

1893: Florence Emeline Wall: American chemist. She was one of the first women to be recognized as a cosmetic chemist and the first woman to receive the medal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, in 1956. She was recognized then as “the foremost authority on this branch of education.” She was inducted into the Cosmetology Hall of Fame at the New York World’s Fair in 1965.

1905: Aristid Victor Grosse: German nuclear chemist. During his work with Otto Hahn, he got access to waste material from radium production, and with this starting material he was able in 1927 to isolate protactinium oxide and was later able to produce metallic protactinium by decomposition of protactinium iodide.

1945: Richard Royce Schrock:  American chemist and Nobel laureate (2005) recognized for his contributions to the olefin metathesis reaction used in organic chemistry.