The 7 Most Important Chemicals In History

November 3, 2021

The 7 Most Important Chemicals in History

Chemistry is the branch of science that studies the composition and properties of matter and the transformations it undergoes without altering the elements that make it up.

Today we are going to present you the list of people who dedicated their lives to the research of this science in order to achieve significant advances that contributed great advances to our daily lives.

Number 7

John dalton (Eaglesfield, Gran Bretaña, 1766 – Manchester, 1844)

British chemist and physicist who owes the first modern formulation of atomic theory.

Atomic theory

His most important contribution to science was his theory that matter is made up of atoms of different masses that combine in simple proportions to form compounds. This theory, first formulated in 1803, is the cornerstone of modern physical science.

Atomic masses

In 1808 his work New System of Chemical Philosophy was published, which included the atomic masses of various known elements in relation to the mass of hydrogen. He arrived at his atomic theory through the study of the physical properties of atmospheric air and other gases.

Number 6

Antoine Laurent lavoisier (Paris, France, 1743 – ibid, 1794)

He was a French chemist, biologist and economist. Considered the father of modern chemistry

Law of conservation of matter

Antoine Lavoisier was the first scientist in history to postulate and show that matter can change, but its mass remains the same. Through his experiments, he correctly announced that matter is neither created nor destroyed. It just transforms. This is one of the strongest scientific pillars out there.

Elementary Treatise on Chemistry

Published in 1789, “Elementary Treatise on Chemistry” is a book by Antoine Lavoisier that marks, without a doubt, a turning point in the history of Chemistry. Throughout 580 pages, Lavoisier establishes the foundations of this science, speaking about the chemical elements and their nature and establishing the theories that would mark the future of Chemistry.

The chemical nomenclature

Lavoisier laid the foundations of modern chemistry incorporating what was known as the “table of simple substances”, those that cannot be divided into simpler ones and that would be the precursor of the periodic table of chemical elements that we all know.

Combustion and respiration

One of Lavoisier’s main contributions was to understand the chemical nature of combustion and animal respiration, analyzing the role that gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide (which he called calcium acid) played in them.

Contribution to the metric system

Antoine Lavoisier was also one of the French scientists who created a metric system of measurement to ensure the universality and uniformity of all the weights and measures that were made in France.

Number 5

Dimitri Mendeléyev (Tobolsk 1834 – San Petersburgo 1907)

He was a Russian chemist, known for having discovered the underlying pattern in what is now known as the periodic table of the elements.

 The periodic table.

The ordering of the chemical elements in a periodic table was Mendeleyév’s great contribution to Science, since this grouping by atomic weights and valences allows us to observe a regularity in the properties of the elements. Mendeleev also noticed that once the elements had been arranged, there were three unoccupied spaces. Convinced that his idea was correct, he postulated that the holes corresponded to elements not yet discovered and even predicted their properties, based on those of others in the same group.

Number 4

Robert Wilhelm Bunsen (Gotinga, 1811 – Heidelberg, 1899)

He was a German chemist. He investigated the interaction between matter and radiated energy. He discovered cesium and rubidium, together with Gustav Kirchhoff.

Hekla volcano

In 1845 the Icelandic volcano Hekla erupted. He was invited by the government of that country to carry out an expedition.

Throughout this experience, he examined the volcano’s hot spring, where hot water and air vapor were generated. There he was able to identify elements such as hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide in the escaping gases.

Modern laboratory

Bunsen accepted various positions at different universities throughout his career. In Heidelberg he was able to impart his ideas in a laboratory that was considered the most modern in Germany.

There he managed to carry out new experiments that allowed him to obtain new metals such as: chromium, magnesium, aluminum, sodium or lithium, through the electrolysis of molten salts.

The Bunsen burner

Michael Faraday created a gas burner that was perfected by Bunsen. It received the name of Bunsen burner and was characterized by having a burner that works with gas from the city and the addition of oxygen.

This instrument served him to study many other elements. Furthermore, it is still present in scientific laboratories, although with less and less influence. Some still use it to bend glass or heat some liquids.

Number 3

Alfred Bernhard Nobel (Stockholm, 1833 – San Remo, 1896)

He was a Swedish chemist, engineer, writer and inventor, best known for inventing dynamite and creating the awards that bear his name.

liquid nitroglycerin

He returned to Sweden where he organized several explosives plants, based mainly on the manufacture of liquid nitroglycerin, a detonating substance discovered by the Italian Ascanio Sobrero in 1846.
With his brothers Ludwig (1831-88) and Robert (1829-96), he perfected the oil distillation and exploited the Russian fields of Baku.

In Heleneborg, Sweden, he worked in a factory trying to develop a safe method of handling nitroglycerin, after an explosion in 1864 killed his brother and others.

Dynamite

In 1867, he reduced the volatility of nitroglycerin by mixing it with a porous absorbent material, diatomaceous earth, obtaining a powder that could be percussed and even burned in the open air without exploding. The resulting mixture only exploded when electrical or chemical detonators were used. Dynamite was born.
During 1875 he invented gelignite, more stable and powerful than dynamite. Later he created ballistics, one of the first smokeless powders. At the time of his death he ran factories for the production of explosives in various parts of the world.

Inventions

In addition to explosives, he invented the detonator, synthetic rubber, artificial silk and leather, among others, in total he registered more than 350 patents in various countries.

 

Number 2

Amedeo Avogadro (Turin, 1776 – ibid, 1856)

Avogadro’s law

The scientist Amedeo proposed a method to determine, in an easy and simple way, the masses belonging to the molecules of the bodies that can pass to the gaseous state and the reference number of said molecules in the combinations.

This method consists in that, if equal volumes of gases contain an equal number of particles, the relationship between the densities of these gases must be equal to the relationship between the masses of those particles.

This hypothesis was also used by Avogadro to determine the number of molecules that make up the different compounds.

One of the peculiarities that Amedeo realized was that the results of his theory were in contradiction with the conclusions reached by the scientist Dalton, taking into account his rules of maximum simplicity.

Avogadro established that these rules were based on assumptions of an arbitrary nature, so they should be replaced by his own conclusions by calculating atomic weights.

Ideal gases

This Avogadro theory is part of the set of laws relating to and applicable to ideal gases, which consist of a type of gas composed of a set of point particles that move randomly and do not interact with each other.

For example, Amedeo applied this hypothesis to hydrogen chloride, water, and ammonia. In the case of hydrogen chloride, it was found that a volume of hydrogen reacts when contacted with a volume of dichlor, resulting in two volumes of hydrogen chloride.

Clarification regarding molecules and atoms

At that time there was no clear distinction between the words “atom” and “molecule”. In fact, one of Avogadro’s admired scientists, Dalton, tended to confuse these concepts.

The reason for the confusion of both terms was due to the fact that Dalton considered gaseous elements such as oxygen and hydrogen to be part of simple atoms, which contradicted the theory of some Gay-Lussac experiments.

Amedeo Avogadro managed to clarify this confusion, since he implemented the notion that these gases are made up of molecules that have a pair of atoms. By means of Avogadro’s law, the relative weight of atoms and molecules can be determined, which implied their differentiation.

Although this hypothesis implied a great discovery, it was overlooked by the scientific community until 1858, with the arrival of the Cannizzaro tests.

Thanks to Avogadro’s law, the concept of the “mole” could be introduced, which consists of the mass in grams that is equal to the molecular weight. The number of molecules contained in a mole was called Avogadro’s number, which is 6.03214179 x 1023 mol.l-1, this number being the most accurate at present.

 

Number 1

Jöns Jacob Berzelius (Östergötland, 1779 – Estocolmo, 1848)

Law of definite proportions

Shortly after arriving in Stockholm, he wrote a chemistry textbook for his medical students that was the starting point of his long and fruitful career.

While conducting experiments to document the textbook, he used the law of constant proportions, formulated by Joseph Louis Proust, and showed that inorganic substances are composed of different elements in constant proportions by weight.

Based on this fact, in 1828, he compiled a table of relative atomic weights, where the atomic weight of oxygen was set at 100. This work provided evidence in favor of Dalton’s atomic theory: that inorganic chemical compounds are made up of atoms. combined in whole amounts.

Upon discovering that atomic weights are not integer multiples of the weight of hydrogen (example: the weight of chlorine is 35.5 times the atomic weight of hydrogen), Berzelius also refuted Proust’s hypothesis that elements are built from atoms hydrogen.

chemical nomenclature

In order to systematize his experiments, he developed a system of chemical notation in which elements were denoted with simple symbols. It consisted of assigning the first letter of its name in Latin to the element, adding a second letter when there was a need to differentiate between two elements whose name began with the same initial. For example, C = carbon, Ca = calcium. In addition, the proportions were indicated by numbers.

This is basically the same system used today in the molecular formula, with the only difference that instead of the subscripts used today (for example, H 2 O), Berzelius used superscripts (H 2 O). Despite the great advance that it represented compared to previous systems, his proposal met with resistance, and it took years to be universally accepted.

Discovery of new chemical elements

He is considered the first analyst of the 19th century because, in addition to carrying out a large number of analyzes with the greatest precision, he must be credited with the discovery of thorium, cerium and selenium, he was the first to isolate silicon (1823) , zirconium (1824), and titanium (1828). In addition, the students who worked with him in the laboratory also discovered lithium in 1817 and rediscovered vanadium in 1830. Berzelius was the one who came up with those names, as well as sodium.

He studied the combinations of sulfur with phosphorus, fluorine and fluorides, determined a large number of chemical equivalents.

Coined new chemical terms

Berzelius is also credited with new terms used in chemistry such as catalysis, polymers, isomer, isomerism, halogen, organic radical, and allotrope, although their original definitions differ drastically from their modern usage.

Great contribution to biology

He was the first to make the distinction between organic compounds (those that contain carbon), and inorganic compounds.

The term “protein” was proposed by Berzelius because these molecules appeared to be the primitive substance of animal feed that plants prepare for herbivores.

Dr. Loony Davis5
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Born and raised in Brussels in an English family, I have always lived in a multicultural environment. After several work experiences in marketing and communication, I came to Smart Water Magazine, which I describe as the most exciting challenge of my career.
I am a person with great restlessness and curiosity to learn, discover what I do not know, as well as reinvent myself daily, someone who is curious about life and wants to know. I enjoy sharing knowledge.
This is my personal project but I also collaborate in other blogs, it is the case, the most important web on water currently exists in the US, if you are interested you can read my articles here.

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