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December 26th is Clemens Winkler's birthday. Winkler was the German chemist who discovered the element germanium. While working as a professor of chemistry at the Freiberg School of Mines, he was given a sample of a new mineral discovered by a fellow professor named Albin Weisbach. Weisbach found a new mineral in the nearby silver mine called argyrodite. Initial analysis showed argyrodite was made up of silver, sulfur and a small amount of mercury. Since mercury had never been found in the mine before, Weisbach passed on the mineral to Winkler. Winkler found the silver, sulfur and mercury only accounted for 94% of the mineral's mass and attempted to separate and identify the remaining 6%. He discovered the missing mass was a new element that had many of the same chemical properties predicted by the unknown element listed as ekasilicon on Mendeleev's periodic table.

The discovery of germanium and its placement in the periodic table was important to the idea of periodicity of the elements and helped cement the idea in chemistry. Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.

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