Greetings from the BCCE! Well, actually from a cafe down the street from the BCCE, since the wireless accounts that were supposed to be set up for conference goers are not currently functional. (The lengths to which I’m willing to go to satisfy my readers!) The immediate result of this situation is it will take comments a bit longer to go up.
But, I have gathered (from the talks on how to convey the “nature of science” to students) some fun facts about famous chemists.
Mendeleev (who came up with the periodic table) liked cowboy novels and hated Dostoyevsky. He never believed in electrons (thinking that what was being detected in various experiments must be the ether that the Michelson-Morley experiment ended up doing away with). Although he was nominated for a Nobel Prize, Arrhenius threw his weight around to block Mendeleev from winning it. And, Mendeleev is remembered as the father of the Russian cheese industry. Mmmm, cheese!
Lise Meitner (technically a physicist, but we love her just the same) and chemist Otto Hahn (with the assistance of Fritz Strassmann and Otto Robert Frisch) essentially co-discovered fission. However, Hahn was a solo recipient of the Nobel Prize in chemistry for this discovery. Meitner, apparently, didn’t care about losing out on this prize, though. And, she has an element in the Periodic Table (meitnerium, element-109) named after her. Element-105 was almost named hahnium in Otto Hahn’s honor, but the IUPAC decided that a Russian team discovered element-105 before the American team that suggested naming it hahnium and gave it the name proposed by the Russians (dubnium) instead.
Louis de Broglie is rumored to have the shortest Ph.D. thesis on record. Arrhenius‘s dissertation (dealing with the then-controversial subject of ionization) received a “fourth grade” mark, one of the lowest you could get.
1912 was an Olympic year. Niels Bohr was trying out for the Danish Olympic soccer team. He was the last player cut. Having been cut, he went instead to work with Rutherford, and started to figure out the quantum atom.
If I get more juicy tidbits, I’ll post them. In the meantime, I’ll post a sentence uttered during one of talks today and let you guess the context:
“This is not a race of experimental lubricants.”