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.
Born in Glasgow in October 1852, Ramsay was the only son of an engineer and businessman. He began his education in Glasgow Academy, which was followed by studies at the University of Glasgow. His initial interest in chemistry began when he first read about gunpowder in a book. He started attending lectures in the subject and even worked as an apprentice in the laboratory of the city analyst Robert Tatlock.
Ramsay went on to become a student of Rudolf Fittig, an organic chemist in the University of Tubingen in Germany. Here he received his doctorate for his thesis on investigations on the toluic and nitrotoluic acids. Following this, Ramsay returned to his hometown to become an assistant of Thomas Anderson at Anderson College. Ramsay went on to become the principal at the University College of Bristol, where he conducted research in the field of organic chemistry and gases.
Contributions to chemistry
Ramsay has made many contributions to the field of chemistry. His contributions touch the fields of organic chemistry and physical chemistry including stoichiometry, thermodynamics, molecular weights, density, surface tension and the critical states of liquids & vapours. Lord Rayleigh, while conducting experiments discovered that when you got nitrogen from ammonia it was less than the nitrogen in air. And when Ramsay heard this he thought that there may be another gas involved. By with further experimentation he discovered a denser, inert gas which he called argon. In 1895, Ramsay along with fellow scientist Morris W Travers, discovered the gases Krypton, Neon and Xenon. Ramsay won the Noble Prize in 1904 for the discoveries of these invert gases.