History of Chemistry: Pt. 3

the conclusion to the last post, looking at the BBC documentary ‘Chemistry: A Volatile History’

The third and final episode deals with:

  • Heinrich Diesbach, the inventor of the first synthetic paint (made from blood: HARDCORE!). This is the beginning of synthetic chemistry.
  • I can’t find their names, but two chemists who were working with molecules that were made up of the same elements, but reacted differently. This led to the idea that molecules which have their elements organized differently will have different properties. The two molecules were silver fulminate (AgCNO) and silver cyanate (AgOCN).
  • Smithson Tennant (1761 – 1815), who burned diamond and discovered that it was made up of carbon…which also made up graphite (dun dun DUNNNN)
  • Archibald Scott Couper (1831 – 1892), who came up with the idea of bonds.
  • August Kekulé (1829 – 1896), the guy who dreamt of the structure of benzene, and ultimately got the credit for the theory of bonds and chemical structure.
    This lead to modern industrial chemistry: creating compounds by design.
    Think plastics…
  • Wallace Hume Carothers (1896 – 1937), inventor of organic chemistry and nylon.
    Committed suicide with potassium cyanide 😦
  • Lead
  • Creation of man made elements (radioactive elements)
  • Henri Becquerel (1852 – 1908), who discovered radioactivity with Marie Curie (1867 – 1934) and Pierre Curie (1859 – 1906). Marie discovered radium.
  • Ernest Rutherford (1871 – 1937): he discovered the concept of radioactive half life, proved that radioactivity involved the transmutation of one chemical element to another, and also differentiated and named alpha and beta radiation. This work was done at McGill University in Canada. Later he postulated that atoms have their positive charge concentrated in a very small nucleus, and thereby pioneered the Rutherford model, or planetary, model of the atom. He is widely credited with first “splitting the atom” in 1917.
  • Enrico Fermi (1901 – 1954), who’s nickname was ‘the pope’. Pretty much discovered nuclear fission, along with Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner (Meitner is often mentioned as one of the most glaring examples of women’s scientific achievement overlooked by the Nobel committee.) With J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904 – 1967), he is frequently referred to as “the father of the atomic bomb”.
  • The Manhattan Project
  • The Cyclotron and its use in creating an element heavier than uranium.
  • Edwin McMillan‘s (1907 – 1991) creation of neptunium, an element heavier than uranium. Which lead to the creation of plutonium (bomb used in Nagasaki).
  • The doc ends in talking about the edge of current chemistry: creating elements heavier than element 112 (Copernicium)
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About dontdontoperate

28 year old originally from Barrie, Ontario, Canada. H.B.Sc. from UofT with a major in chemistry and a double minor in philosophy and math. M.Sc. from UofT in physiology and neuroscience. Finished my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at McMaster in the fall of 2013.
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