Sir Issac Newton
Robert Wilhelm Bunsen was born in Germany the Spring of 1811. He grew up in a very academic environment. His four older brothers were already good students and his father was a professor of modern languages at the local university. Even though he was interested in geology he became a great chemist. He invented the spectroscope and discovered spectrum analysis, with another German physicist, Gustav Robert Kirchhoff. Together they discovered the elements cesium and rubidium.
Bunsen was born in Gottingen, Germany and was educated at the University of Göttingen. While at the University he received his doctorate in chemistry at age 19. During the 16 years between 1836 and 1852 he taught at the Polytechnic Institute in Kassel and at various universities in the towns of Marsburg and Breslau. The University of Marsburg was the place were he conducted his dangerous studies of cacodyl derivatives. This research was his only work in pure organic chemistry and made him instantly famous within the scientific community.
Bunsen became a lecturer at Gottingen and began his experimental studies of the insolubility of metal salts in arsenious acid. His discovery of the use of iron oxide hydrate as a precipitating agent is still the best known antidote against arsenic poisoning. After this he became a professor at the University of Heidelberg until he retired in 1889. His research led to many discoveries in the field of chemistry. After his retirement Bunsen left the chemical work behind, and returned to his first scientific interest, geology.
Contrary to popular belief, he had very little to do with the invention of the Bunsen burner he merely popularized the use of the device and made several improvements upon its design. The real inventor of the design for the Bunsen burner is the British chemist/physicist Michael Faraday. Bunsen however did invent many other scientific instruments such as the ice calorimeter, a filter pump, and the zinc-carbon electric cell.
Relation to Sun Research
The spectroscope that Bunsen invented has been and is still being used to determine the elements found in the various stars and the Sun. It was determined through spectroscopy that there are 93 different elements that we know of in the Sun.
|"At present Kirchhoff and I are
engaged in a common work which doesn't let us sleep...Kirchhoff has
made a wonderful, totally unexpected discovery in finding the cause
of the dark lines in the solar spectrum....thus a means has been
found to determine the composition of the Sun and stars with the
same accuracy as we determine sulfuric acid...with our chemical
- Robert Bunsen
©Copyright 1998 Elizabeth
Beckett, Holly Bernitt, and Vishwa Chandra.