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December 9 Science History

Science History of December 9

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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.

1937 - Nils Gustaf Dalén died.

Nils Gustaf Dalén (1869 - 1937)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Dalén was a Swedish industrialist and inventor who was awarded the 1912 Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the automatic sun valve. This device regulated a gaslight lamp's fuel through the action of sunlight, turning it on when it was dark, and off again at dawn. It was quickly adopted in ocean buoys and lighthouses. He lost his eyesight while working on one of his other inventions, but managed to continue inventing until his death.

1935 - Lafayette Benedict Mendel died.

Lafayette Mendel (1872 - 1935)
Library of Congress
Mendel was an American biochemist who, together with Thomas B. Osborne discovered vitamins A and B, lysine and tryptophan and their role in nutrition. They also studied the toxin ricin from castor beans.

1926 - Henry Way Kendall was born.

Kendall was an American physicist who shares the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics with Jerome Isaac Friedman and Richard E. Taylor for discovering evidence proving the existence of quarks. They used high energy electron beams targetted at protons and neutrons and investigated the scattering from the collisions. They found both protons and neutrons were not solid balls of matter but made up of smaller particles.

1917 - James Rainwater was born.

Rainwater was an American physicist who shares the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physics with Aage Bohr and Ben Mottelson for their work on determining the structure and shape of atomic nuclei. He theorized that some atomic nuclei were not spherical as standard models predicted. Bohr and Mottelson verified the theory.

1919 - William Nunn Lipscomb, Jr. was born.

Lipscomb is an American chemist who was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on boranes and his contributions to the understanding of chemical bonds. Boranes are molecules made up of boron and hydrogen. Stable boranes do not follow the standard electron pair sharing bonding scheme since they do not possess the requisite number of electrons. Lipscomb showed these compounds could share electrons across three atoms to form stable bonds.

1868 - Fritz Haber was born.

Fritz Haber (1868 - 1934)
Nobel Prize Foundation
Haber was awarded the 1918 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his nitrogen fixing method of creating ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen. He is also considered the father of chemical warfare.

1748 - Claude Louis Berthollet was born.

Claude Louis Berthollet (1748 - 1822)
Wikimedia Commons
Berthollet was a French chemist who introduced the use of chlorine based bleach as a dye. He also argued against the law of definite proportions where chemicals combine in whole number ratios. Non-stoichiometric compounds are called berthollides in his honor.

1742 - Carl Wilhelm Scheele was born.

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742 - 1786)
Library of Congress
Scheele was a German-Swedish apothecary who independently discovered oxygen. Joseph Priestly is also credited with this discovery since be published his findings first. He also discovered barium, manganese, molybdenum, tungsten and chlorine.

1703 - Chester Moor Hall was born.

Hall was an English mathematician who developed the achromatic lens. Glass lenses would refract light by different amounts for different color light, resulting in blurry images in telescope. The achromatic lens would corrected the color distortion problem and greatly improve telescopes.

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