"Science or chemistry was never one of my stronger classes in school, but I get nostalgic every time I see a chemistry set and a Bunsen burner."
Born March 30 or 31 - biographers diverge - 1811, in Göttingen, Germany, the German chemist who, with Gustav Kirchhoff, about 1859 observed that each element emits a light of characteristic wavelength.
Such studies opened the field of spectrum analysis, which became of great importance in the study of the Sun and stars and also led Bunsen almost immediately to his discovery of two alkali-group metals, cesium and rubidium.
Adolf Meyer, 1904
Bunsen had a great reputation for warm heartedness, and enjoying jokes and fun. His students admired him greatly. He told a great many anecdotes, published after his death in a short book called Bunseniana.
Google Doodle 200th Birthday Robert Bunsen
Today, March 31, Google celebrates the 200th birthday of one of the most important chemists, Robert Wilhelm E. Bunsen. He investigated emission spectra of heated elements and discovered cesium (1860) and rubidium (1861) with Gustav Kirchhoff.
Bunsen was a pioneer in photo chemistry. He developed the laboratory gas burner, now popular as the Bunsen burner and still in use in our days.
Once again, Google reminds us an important fact or person, on the occasion, an interactive chemical laboratory Doodle. Why? To celebrate the flaming Bunsen burner.
Invite students to visit the Google Doodles page, if they don't live in Germany, Otherwise, Google browser presents the Doodle. On updated web browsers, students can move their mouse - now touching screen - anywhere on the screen to control the intensity of the flame and the level of the fluids in the beakers.
"It was a pretty intense session getting all of the work done in time for the doodle to launch, but don't worry, we managed to avoid any (major) lab disasters and/or explosions in the process."
Mike Dutton & Jonathan Tang
Gustav Kirchhoff & Robert Bunsen
Inventors of a Spectroscope
Bunsen using a spectroscope
credits: New York Public Library/Science Source
After taking a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Göttingen in 1830, Bunsen taught at the Universities of Marburg and Breslau and elsewhere. As professor at Heidelberg (1852–99), he built up an excellent school of chemistry.
Never married, he lived for his students, with whom he was very popular, and his laboratory. He chiefly concerned himself with experimental and analytical work.
In 1860 Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff discovered two alkali metals, cesium and rubidium, with the aid of the spectroscope they had invented the year before.
Bunsen and Kirchhoff met and became friends in 1851, when Bunsen spent a year at the University of Breslau, where Kirchhoff was teaching.
credits: Gary Brown/ Science Photo Library
In 1855 Robert Bunsen had created the Bunsen burner for use in flame tests of various metals and salts: its non-luminous flame did not interfere with the colored flame given off by the test material. This line of work led to the spectroscope.
It was Kirchhoff who suggested that similarly colored flames could possibly be differentiated by looking at their emission spectra through a prism. When he shone bright light through such flames, the dark lines in the absorption spectrum of the light corresponded in wavelengths, with the wavelengths of the bright, sharp lines characteristic of the emission spectra of the same test materials.
Robert Bunsen memorial
"In my day, we studied science and not, as now so often happens, only one of them."
Bunsen was one of the most universally admired scientists of his generation. He was a master teacher, devoted to his students, and they were equally devoted to him.
At a time of vigorous and often caustic scientific debates, Bunsen always conducted himself as a perfect gentleman, maintaining his distance from theoretical disputes.
He much preferred to work quietly in his laboratory, regularly enriching his science with useful discoveries.
On a point of principle, he never took out a patent, despite the fact that his new battery and new laboratory burner would surely have brought him great wealth.
In the International Year of Chemistry what a wonderful digital resource include into chemistry and physics school curriculum. Teachers and students are joining the celebrations of IYC.
The Chemistry 2011:
International Year of Chemistry 2011
The Chemistry 2011:
The IYC 2011 will be a year-long celebration in which anyone can participate. Teachers can coordinate an activity, engage students in a project, or simply share an idea. Join in now and become part of something special.
Teachers can share, discuss and plan ideas about IYC 2011.
Students can plan activities with their teachers in the classroom and then share with IYC 2011, by country.
And to add an event or events to the list, go to the Activities section and submit a description of the activity.
Don't miss the video message by Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, for the Opening of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) 2011.
The year 2011 has coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry awarded to Marie Sklodowska-Curie (1867-1934), one of the most extraordinary persons in all of human history. It also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies.
"Marie Curie was honoured with a Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1911). Since then, only three women having been honoured on this way. It's important to encourage young women to contribute their talent to this exciting field."
Irina Bokova, former director -general UNESCO
"Chemistry - our life, our future."
the official slogan of the IYC 2011
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Schools : Robert Bunsen & International Year of Chemistry 2011 : resources by G-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
References: Britannica/ IYC 2011/ UNESCO/ UN