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December 30 Science History

Science History of December 30


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

2013 - Rita Levi-Montalcini Died

Rita Levi-Montalcini
Creative Commons
Montalcini is an Italian neurologist who was awarded half the 1986 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of nerve growth factors. She was denied a research position in Mussolini's anti-Jewish laws of the late 1930s, so she set up a home laboratory and researched nerve growth in chicken embryos. She served in the Italian Senate from 2001 to her death.

1934 - John Norris Bahcall was born.

Bahcall was an American astrophysicist who worked on the solar neutrino problem where there was a large difference between the number of neutrinos measured from the Sun and the number predicted by theory. His work on neutrino detection would lead to a Nobel Prize for Raymond Davis Jr. and Masatoshi Koshiba in 2002. He was also involved in the development of the Hubble Space Telescope.

1691 - Robert Boyle died.

Robert Boyle (1627-1691)
Johann Kerseboom (c. 1689)
Boyle was an Irish chemist who published The Sceptical Chymist which argues against Aristotle's view of the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water in favor of matter consisting of corpuscles (atoms). He also worked with 'rarefied' air (low pressure and vacuum) and discovered sound does not travel in vacuum and animals need air to live. Boyle's ideal gas law shows at constant temperature, change in pressure are inversely proportional to the change in volume.

1644 - Jan Baptista van Helmont died.

Jan Baptist van Helmont (1579 - 1644)
Wikimedia Commons
Helmont was a Flemish physician and alchemist who introduced the term 'gas' to chemistry. He was the first to identify air was made up of different gases. He was also the first to show the gas given off by burning charcoal was identical to the gas given off during fermentation and called it 'gas sylvestre', better known today as carbon dioxide.

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