The English poet Keats wrote a famous poem called Lamia, criticising scientists. He lamented that they had 'unwoven the rainbow' - i.e. by explaining how a rainbow is created, destroyed its beauty. But the science that explains a rainbow, also explains the secrets of life and the birth of the universe!
Svante Arrhenius was one of the first chemists in the field of physical chemistry. He was the first person to discover the effect of global warming. His experiments focus on the effect of the doubling of the amount of carbon dioxide gas on the environment. Even today the issue of global warming is still debated and extensive research is conducted in this field.
Sir William Ramsay was the Scottish scientist who discovered the noble gases. These gases are argon, neon, krypton and xenon. These gases along with helium and radon formed a new set of elements. For this discovery, Ramsay was awarded the Noble Prize in 1904.
Sir Humphry Davy was an electrochemist who discovered several alkalis. He discovered elements like chlorine and iodine Davy is also remembered for brightening the lives of miners by making the miners safety lamp, now called the Davy lamp.
We have all done litmus tests at school. How many of us know that Robert Boyle is the inventor of the litmus test. Considered to be the founder of modern chemistry, Robert Boyle was a scientist of the 17th century. Boyle is remembered for his law about the relationship between pressure and volume of gasses.
Best-known for his work in modern atomic theory, John Dalton was an English chemist, meteorologist and physicist. The son of a weaver, Dalton's major contribution to the field of chemistry is his atomic theory proposed in 1803. In the theory he reasoned that tiny particles called atoms make up elements.
Born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff is known for his contribution in physical chemistry. He conducted extensive research in the fields of chemical equilibrium, osmotic pressure and stereochemistry, for which he received his first Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
What if you had to deal with viruses for the most of your active life? Sounds dangerous, doesn't it? Well, that's what Wendell Stanley chose as his career. He was an American biochemist who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on purification and crystallization of viruses to demonstrate their molecular structure. He is the man even experts turn to when they have problems with viruses.
Imagine what would happen if there were no drugs to cure Malaria. That's a scary situation, isn't it? Sir Robert Robinson's research in organic chemistry with the structure and synthesis of organic bodies led to the production of anti-malarial drugs.
Today, we talk about radioactivity and radioactive elements. But do you know who coined the term 'radioactivity''? Yes, it was the Nobel Prize winning Marie Curie. She discovered two important elements - Radium and Polonium, which you will be able to easily spot in the periodic table. Marie Curie dedicated her entire life for research on radioactive elements.
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac is quite popular in the world of chemistry. He is remembered for his laws on gases, known as Gay Lussac's laws. His two laws deal with volumes, pressures and temperatures of gases and the relationship between them.
We all love to munch on chips. Have you ever wondered how these chips stay so fresh? If you look closely at the packet, you will realise that the preservative gas used is Nitrogen. The first person to discover nitrogen was Daniel Rutherford in 1772.
Today it is very easy for us to define what an atom or molecule is. In the early days of science there was a lot of debate about this. It was Amedeo Avogadro who helped tell the difference between compounds, molecules and atoms.
Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald was the son of Gottfried Wilhelm Ostwald and Elisabeth Leuckel. He was a Baltic German chemist whose work on catalysis, chemical equilibrium and reaction velocities won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1909.
Rutherford is considered to be the father of nuclear physics, being the first person to split the atom in 1917. He discovered that all atoms had their positive charge concentrated in a nucleus. He was awarded the Noble Prize for his work in the field.
V. Ramakrishnan is one of three scientists who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was awarded the prize for his studies of the structure and function of the ribosome. His research is important in the field of medicine and hopefully will help develop new antibiotic cures.
Alfred Werner was a Swiss chemist who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1913 for his research on coordination chemistry. He proposed the octahedral configuration of transition metal complexes and became the first inorganic chemist to win the prize.
Otto Hahn a German chemist was one of the first scientists to break new ground in the field of radioactivity and radiochemistry. He won the Nobel Prize in 1944 for his discovery of nuclear fission. Due to his work he is often called 'the father of nuclear chemistry' and the 'founder of the atomic age'.
Otto Wallach is the German Chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on alicyclic compounds. One of his major contributions that he is known for is his isoprene rule and study of terpene which is used in turpentine today.
Glenn Seaborg was born in Ishpeming, Michigan on April 19th, 1912. He was an American scientist who had a Scottish lineage. He won the Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1951 for his many discoveries in the field of Transuranium metals. He has many things named after him from the element Seaborgium to an asteroid called 4856 Seaborg.
Theodor Svedberg was a Swedish chemist born in Flerang, Sweden on August 30th, 1884. He won the Nobel Prize for chemistry for his studies in the field of colloids and also for the invention of the ultracentrifuge in 1926.
Frederic Joliot-Curie and Irene Joliot-Curie were both French scientists. Husband and wife, they were jointly awarded Nobel laureates in 1935 for their joint discovery of new radioactive isotopes which they prepared artificially. They are also known for their contribution towards the discovery of the neutron.
Francois Auguste Victor Grignard and Paul Sabatier were joint Noble Laureates for chemistry in the year 1912. They were both French chemists who started their careers in different fields, mathematics and physics, but made respectable contributions to the field of chemistry later in their life.
Carl Bosch was born on 27th August, 1874 in Cologne, Germany. He was a German chemist and engineer. Carl won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1931 for his contribution in the introduction of high pressure chemistry. The asteroid- 7414 Bosch was named after him in his honour.
Gerhard Herzberg was born on the 25th December, 1904, in Hamburg, Germany. A pioneer in both chemistry and physical chemistry, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1971. The asteroid 3316 Herzberg too is named after him.
Francis William Aston won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering isotopes by conducting mass spectrograph of isotopes. He conducted this research in a large amount of non-radioactive elements. He is also remembered for his whole-number rule.
Austrian chemist Fritz Pregl won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contribution in the field of quantitative organic microanalysis. He played a major role in helping develop the combustion train technique of elemental analysis.
Arthur Harden was a biochemist who jointly won the 1929 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on the fermentation of sugars and fermentative enzymes. He shared this prize with Hans Karl August Simon von Euler-Chelpin.
The British chemist W. N. Haworth made important contributions to biochemistry, including his study of Vitamin C. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1937 along with Paul Karrer, and was knighted in 1947.
We owe a lot of our understanding of the field of isotopes to Harold Urey, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934. Urey also contributed to building the atom bomb and notably the development of organic life from non-living matter.
In 1987, countries around the world agreed upon the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to eliminate chemicals which deplete the ozone layer. Frank Rowland and Mario Molino deserve the credit for this, for they showed exactly how CFCs destroy ozone.
While the role of CFCs in depleting the ozone layer is well-known, there are many other gases that deplete ozone and act as greenhouse gases. The role of these gases was explained by Paul Crutzen, who got the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995.
Some scientists love science simply because it is wonderful. Some pursue science because they feel "Research is for nations and mankind, not for researchers themselves". Prof. Ryoji Noyori firmly believes in the latter.
You know that plants are green because they contain chlorophyll. You also know that chlorophyll is important for photosynthesis. But do you know that it was a scientist called Richard Martin Willstatter who discovered it?
As the 21st century progresses, we're all aware that that our lives need to become more eco-friendly. Green chemistry is a way to make that happen. One of the pioneers of green chemistry is Robert Howard Grubbs.
When you read an encyclopaedia, ever wondered who had the patience to put it all together? One of the world's oldest encyclopaedias was put together by a Roman writer called Gaius Plinius Secundus, or Pliny the Ender.
Often our elders tell us to stick to the 'tried and tested'. But the best scientists have been those who refused to follow the familiar. One such is Yves Chauvin, who says you must steer clear of methods perfected over time!
In chemistry practicals, you mix chemicals in test tubes, grind them in mortars and boil them in retorts. Did you know that many of these common equipment and procedures were devised more than a thousand years ago by Jbir ibn Hayyn?
As fossil fuels become rarer, people are searching for alternative sources of energy. One of the most promising, yet controversial, is energy generated from nuclear reactions. Much of our knowledge of these reactions is owed to the Italian scientist Enrico Fermi.
What's common to fungal infections in babies, Dutch Elm disease in trees and mouldy works of art? They can all be cured by a drug called nystatin. And the story of the woman who discovered it - Rachel Fuller Brown - has a lot to learn from.
What happens if you take a rich magistrate's son and make him learn in a village school sitting besides the sons of servants and fishermen? He'll hear tales of birds and animals that make him curious about Nature. And that makes him one of India's first scientists - Jagdish Chandra Bose.
A woman scientist from Cambridge University published an article in the April 25, 1953 on the journal Nature about the molecular structure of DNA. However two male scientists had written another article on the same subject in the same issue of the magazine. Those male scientists - Francis Crick and James Watson - got all the credit. The woman, Rosalind Franklin, vanished into history.
The power of science is often hard to know. How does a scientist know that what he has discovered will put to a good use, and not a bad one? Throughout his life, Linus Pauling grappled with this difficulty.
In a little town called Damanhur, Egypt, a little boy was very fond of learning science. His family dreamed that he would become a great professor some day. So they posted a small sign "Dr. Ahmed" outside his study to encourage him. He grew up to be one of the greatest chemists of our times - Prof. Ahmed Zewail.
Women have often had a tough time in science - first getting jobs, and then getting enough recognition for their research. Kathleen Lonsdale's life is a great inspiration to girls who want to become scientists. She showed they are as good (or even better) than boys.
Many scientists are happy to make their discoveries, but are not interested in making a business of it. But a few rare ones understand why it's important to build bridges between science and industry. Prafulla Chandra Ray was the first Indian to realise this.
In the 19th century, people believed in a theory called vitalism. It said that a mysterious 'life-force' was required to make the organic chemicals found in our bodies. Hermann Kolbe was among the scientists who disproved the theory, by showing that chemicals could be made in the lab.
All of us know that chemistry is the science that studies the materials that are important to our lives. But did you know that one field, physical chemistry, is particularly important? Let's meet one of the most renowned physical chemists ever.
When a drug is introduced to market, it must undergo a number of clinical trials to show that it really cures a disease. But a long time ago, doctors would hand out medicine based on hearsay or even imagination. So who changed it all?
A lot of the food we eat must be processed with chemicals so that it is ready to eat, both for humans and animals. Agricultural chemistry is the field that does this, and Arturi Virtanen is considered the star of this field!
If you know someone who has cancer, they might probably have gone for a PET scan to find out how much the cancer has developed. PET scans make uses of radioisotopes. Their use in medicine was pioneered by Hevesy Gyorgy.
As we celebrate the International Year of Chemistry we realise that anyone can discover a great scientific theory. Would you believe us that a woman without a college education, discovered such a theory while washing dishes in the kitchen sink? She was Agnes Pockels!
Three centuries ago, women were expected to stick to 'womanly' activities such as painting and weaving, and not try to do 'manly' things like scientific experiments. But one woman refused to be so limited - Elizabeth Fulhame.
Antoine Lavoisier is often called the greatest chemist ever, for his amazing discoveries. But did you know that his wife was a great chemist too - the secret of his success? As we celebrate the International Year of Chemistry it seems apt that today on her birth anniversary, we know more about her.
Often we know of a chemical or a device that helps save lives, but we don't know the person who made it possible. So in the international year of chemistry, we thought we'll introduce you to some such people. One of them is Allene Jeanes.
When you study chemistry at school, have you wondered how it all started? While most famous chemists are Europeans and Americans, chemistry actually started among the Arabs. Let's get to know one of the earliest ones - Al-Kindi.
For a long time, women were never allowed to do scientific research. Yet they played many important roles by writing books, being laboratory assistants and sometimes sponsors of scientists. Claudine Picardet was one such, for she conducted a 'salon' in 18th century France, where scientists could meet and discuss.
The Human Touch of Chemistry was created with the idea of making chemistry easy to understand, and great fun too. But even we were surprised to know that Mrs. Jane Marcet had just the same idea - 206 years ago!
We read a little about Hermann von Helmholtz, the founder of thermodynamics, last week. But it was really Josiah Gibbs who helped it develop into a great science, which is followed by all chemists today. Let's know more about him.
Every time you use a computer (such as in reading this article), you make use of the element gallium. It is an important component of semiconductors. Did you know it was Francois Lecoq who discovered it?
While today many women are famous scientists, till just a few centuries back, they weren't allowed to do scientific research or even learn science. Emilie du Chatelet was one of the first women to break the barrier and become a practising scientist.
Different kinds of reactions happen between chemicals. We know that metals give electrons to non-metals to form salts. But many compounds exist, which are formed by non-metals alone. It was Gilbert Lewis who explained how these compounds are formed.
Today we are able to genetically engineer plants to produce various useful chemicals. But did you know that this ability traces back to Helen Michael, who was among the first to study the chemical properties of plants?