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Register for the JMP webinar on 26 September and join the debate. Discovering a new element has been the high point of several distinguished scientific careers, but William Ramsay — gained a unique position in this distinguished company by adding an entire group to the periodic table. Nevertheless, during the century since his death some of those ideas have been partially vindicated. Ramsay was a Scot, born into a Glasgow family with strong scientific connections. Both grandfathers published works on chemistry, and one uncle was a distinguished geologist.
William entered Glasgow University in and science was his primary interest. In the following year he married Margaret Buchanan, and they had a son and a daughter during his tenure there. But in that year he accepted the chair of general chemistry at University College London, remaining there until his retirement in In he was knighted, and in he received the Nobel award.
Thereafter, though busy as an adviser to government and industry, and as a campaigner for better science education, he continued doing research until shortly before his death. His work there — much of it in collaboration with Sydney Young — included making precise measurements of the physical properties of many liquid and gaseous substances.
Some significant conclusions about molecular association and dissociation emerged from these experiments, but the manipulative skill particularly in glass-blowing which Ramsay acquired along the way was crucial for his more celebrated discoveries. Lord Rayleigh woked closely with Ramsay to explore the mysterious residue of atmospheric gas. These began in , following a communication from Lord Rayleigh. Having discovered that atmospheric nitrogen was denser by about 0.
Later, he learned that Henry Cavendish after whom the Cambridge laboratory was named had achieved a similar result many years before. Cavendish had noticed that when the known atmospheric gases were chemically removed from a sample of air, a tiny bubble remained. He could not identify it, and for a century it was forgotten. Rayleigh and Ramsay agreed to pursue this gas together, and Ramsay isolated it by passing atmospheric nitrogen over red-hot magnesium to form magnesium nitride.
Following a preliminary report at the British Association meeting, Rayleigh and Ramsay announced the discovery of a new element to the Royal Society in January Although spectroscopic analysis by William Crookes confirmed that the new gas had a distinctive line-pattern, some critics disputed its elementary status.
Ramsay ignored them, and was soon pursuing another mystery gas. In February the British mineralogist Henry Miers alerted Ramsay to an unusual property of cleveite a mineral consisting mainly of uranium dioxide. William Hillebrand — a chemist with the United States Geological Survey — had noticed that heating cleveite with sulfuric acid generated an unreactive gas, which he presumed was nitrogen.
Within a week, Crookes confirmed that it was helium, an element identified spectroscopically in the sun in , but previously undetected on earth. Ramsay, however, battled on. Its vapour density relative to that of hydrogen was But the ratio of its two specific heats — at constant pressure, and at constant volume — implied that the gas was monatomic. Baker announced in that he was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic back pain, as a result of, respectively, his smoking and his degenerative osteoarthritis.
He underwent open-heart surgery in , four months after suffering an apparently career-ending fall at his home in England. Most of my friends from my era are dead, long dead, because of drug problems. Heroin is bad news, so is cocaine. It was a bloody long battle to clean up. Eat Drink. Things To Do. Transformers Legacy. My Justice League Voice Cast. Young Justice: Episode 1 - Independence Day. Guyver Supernova Cast. Do you have a demo reel?
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