Bunsen (was Re: new puzzle)

From: Amara Graps (Amara.Graps@mpi-hd.mpg.de)
Date: Tue Jan 23 2001 - 04:03:01 MST

From: J. R. Molloy (jr@shasta.com)
>An Aside on the Bunsen Burner

Another aside on Robert Bunsen:

Bunsen was a professor at the University here for 40-something years.
There is now a coppery-green statue largely displayed on our
Heidelberg Hauptstrasse ... The Heidelberg citizens seem to be quite
proud of the man.



28 July 1999
Exhibition at Heidelberg University Museum: Robert Wilhelm Bunsen - A
Life in the Service of Science (1811-1899)

One of the things everyone remembers from chemistry classes at school
is the Bunsen burner. Paradoxically, the scientist it is named after -
Robert Wilhelm Bunsen - appears to have had only a minor part in its
development. But he was one of the most important chemists of the
19th century and his association with Heidelberg University was a long
and fruitful one.

Born in Goettingen on 30 March 1811, Bunsen went to school in
Goettingen and Holzminden and then enrolled at Goettingen University
to study natural sciences and mathematics. He was awarded his
doctorate at the early age of 19 for a dissertation on different kinds
of hygrometer.

Immediately after that Bunsen embarked on an extended study trip
through Europe visting all the major centres of chemical research in
Germany and France. By way of Berlin, Giessen, Heidelberg and Bonn,
Bunsen finally arrived in Paris in 1832 where he attended lectures at
the famous École Polytechnique. He returned to Goettingen via
Vienna in 1834. Only two years later he gained his Habilitation with
work on organometallic compounds. In 1836 when he was working in
Kassel he lost the sight of his right eye after an explosion in his
laboratory. Moving from Kassel to Marburg he took over the
directorship of the Chemical Laboratory there and was appointed
extraordinary professor on 7 August 1839.

Bunsen's invention of the carbon-zinc electrode dates from his Marburg
period (1841), as do his experiments on the composition of gases given
off by blast furnaces. His findings were to lead to a very significant
reduction in coal consumption. In 1850 Bunsen left Marburg for Breslau
where he met Gustav Kirchhoff, another of the century's most gifted
scientists, who came to Heidelberg in 1854.

In 1852 Bunsen was appointed professor at the University of
Heidelberg, where he remained until his death in 1899. May 1853 saw
commencement of the work on the Chemical Laboratory, soon to become
the largest and best-equipped lab of its kind anywhere in the
world. Bunsen's presence in Heidelberg attracted many other famous
chemists of the day (August Kekulé, Emil Erlenmeyer, Adolf von
Baeyer, Henry Roscoe) and made the University of Heidelberg one of the
major world centres of chemical research.

In 1859 Bunsen and the physicist Gustav Kirchhoff collaborated on
their most significant achievement, the development of spectrum
analysis, the key to the discovery of many hitherto unidentified
chemical elements. Bunsen taught at the University until his death in
1899 at the age of 78. Nine years after his death (1908) a monument
was erected in his honour (Hauptstrasse). The second half of the 19th
century established Heidelberg's renown as the leading German
university of the age, due not least to the simultaneous presence of
three of the century's most important scientists: Bunsen, Kirchhoff
and Hermann Helmholtz.


********************************************************************* Amara Graps | Max-Planck-Institut fuer Kernphysik Interplanetary Dust Group | Saupfercheckweg 1 +49-6221-516-543 | 69117 Heidelberg, GERMANY Amara.Graps@mpi-hd.mpg.de * http://www.mpi-hd.mpg.de/dustgroup/~graps ********************************************************************* "Never fight an inanimate object." - P. J. O'Rourke

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