Thursday, March 31, 2011

Schools : Robert Bunsen & International Year of Chemistry 2011 : resources

Robert Wilhelm Bunsen
 engraving by C. Cook, 1850s

"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 metalscesium and rubidium.

Google Doodle:

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 caesium (1860) and rubidium (1861) with Gustav Kirchhoff. 

Bunsen burner
credits: Wikipedia

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. 

On updated web browsers, students can move your mouse 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–Kirchhoff Award, named after Bunsen and his colleague Gustav Kirchhoff, is a prize awarded in recognition for "outstanding achievements" in analytical spectroscopy.

Bunsen using a spectroscope
credits: New York Public Library/Science Source

Some information:

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. 

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 statue 
Hauptstrasse, Heidelberg 

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 prefered 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 Wikipedia


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.

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 here

Students can plan activities with their teachers in the classroom and then share with IYC 2011, by country here

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.

Marie Curie

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 

 "Chemistry - our life, our future."
(The official slogan of the IYC 2011) 


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References: Britannica/ IYC 2011/ UNESCO

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