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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Robert Bunsen

Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen (30 March 1811 – 16 August 1899) was a German chemist. He investigated emission spectra of heated elements, and with Gustav Kirchhoff discovered caesium (in 1860) and rubidium (in 1861). Bunsen developed several gas-analytical methods, was a pioneer in photochemistry, and did early work in the field of organoarsenic chemistry. With his laboratory assistant, Peter Desaga, he developed the Bunsen burner, an improvement on the laboratory burners then in use. The Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award for spectroscopy is named after Bunsen and Kirchhoff. The Robert Wilhelm Bunsen Medal is assigned every year by the European Geosciences Union (www.egu.eu) to scientists who provided significant advance in the fields of Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Petrology, and Volcanology.
Bunsen was born in Göttingen, Germany, the youngest of four sons of the University of Göttingen's chief librarian and professor of modern philology, Christian Bunsen (1770–1837). After attending school in Holzminden, in 1828 Bunsen matriculated at Göttingen and studied chemistry with Friedrich Stromeyer, obtaining the Ph.D. degree in 1831. In 1832 and 1833 he traveled in Germany, France, and Austria, where he met Friedrich Runge (who discovered aniline and in 1819 isolated caffeine), Justus von Liebig in Gießen, and Eilhard Mitscherlich in Bonn.
In 1833, Bunsen Muslim Scientist became a lecturer at Göttingen and began experimental studies of the (in)solubility of metal salts of arsenous acid. Today, his discovery of the use of iron oxide hydrate as a precipitating agent is still the best-known[clarification needed] antidote against arsenic poisoning. In 1836, Bunsen succeeded Friedrich Wöhler at the Polytechnic School of Kassel. Bunsen taught there for three years, and then accepted an associate professorship at the University of Marburg, where he continued his studies on cacodyl derivatives. He was promoted to full professorship in 1841. Bunsen's work brought him quick and wide acclaim, partly because cacodyl, which is extremely toxic and undergoes spontaneous combustion in dry air, is so difficult to work with. Bunsen almost died from arsenic poisoning, and an explosion with cacodyl cost him sight in his right eye. In 1841, Bunsen created the Bunsen cell battery, using a carbon electrode instead of the expensive platinum electrode used in William Robert Grove's electrochemical cell. Early in 1851 he accepted a professorship at the University of Breslau, where he taught for three semesters.

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