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December 13 Science History

Science History of December 13

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Learn about the history of science by reading about the significant scientific events that took place on this day in history.

1955 - António Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz died.

Egas Moniz was a Portuguese neurologist who was awarded half the 1949 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of the therapeutic effects of leucotomy for certain psychoses. A leucotomy is also known as a lobotomy which is a surgical procedure where the connections between the prefrontal cortex and anterior of the frontal lobes of the brain are severed. Moniz developed the technique as an attempt to treat severe mental illnesses.

1935 - Victor Grignard died.

Victor Grignard (1871 - 1935)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Grignard was a French chemist who was awarded half the 1912 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of the Grignard reagent that advanced organic chemistry of the time. Grignard reagents are alkyl- or aryl-magnesium halides used in organometallic chemical reactions (Grignard reactions). Grignard reactions are useful for preparing organic compounds from smaller precursor molecules.

1930 - Fritz Pregl died.

Pregl was an Austrian physician and chemist who was awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his method of micro-analysis of organic substances. While he was researching bile acids, he had difficulty using the analytic techniques of the time to determine the elemental makeup of his samples. He improved the techniques such that there were fewer steps and less sample was needed. He also developed a sensitive micro-balance and new ways to identify functional groups.

1923 - Philip Warren Anderson was born.

Anderson is an American physicist who shares the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physics with John H. Van Vleck and Nevill F. Mott for their research into electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems. He also outlined a theoretical model explaining what happens when an impurity is present in a metal.

1867 - Kristian Olaf Birkeland was born.

Kristian Olaf Birkeland (1867 - 1917)
Birkeland was a Norwegian physicist to first described the nature of the Aurora borealis. He discovered that a beam of electrons aimed at a magnetized terrella produced rings of light near the poles. He also invented the electromagnetic rail gun that uses magnetic fields to propel munitions, but did not pursue the invention. He developed the Birkeland-Eyde nitrogen fixation process that produced nitric acid from atmospheric nitrogen.

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