Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This Day in Science History - January 14 - Cato Guldberg

January 14th marks the passing of Cato Guldberg. Cato and Peter Waage were Norwegian chemists who discovered the chemistry law of mass action. The law of mass action relates the rate of a reaction to the concentration of the reactants. They had an interesting journey to get their work recognized and is a lesson in getting published in the 'right' scientific journals. They initially published their findings in a Norwegian scientific journal and consequently, gained very little recognition for their research. They republished their work in a French journal which did not attract any more attention. Their work remained obscure until German chemist, Wilhelm Ostwald published an article that mentioned the law and proved their results with experiments of his own. Dutch chemist Jacobus van't Hoff derived his kinetics equations in 1888 and received credit for the discovery, they republished again in a German journal and finally got the recognition for their work.

2005 - Huygens proble lands on Titan.

 The European Space Agency's Huygens probe touched down on the surface of Saturn's moon, Titan. It was part of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft mission to Saturn. The probe detached from the main spacecraft and landed two weeks later. The probe sent back images and data for another 90 minutes before battery power was drained. The probe was named for Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens who discovered the rings of Saturn and the moon, Titan.

934 - Paul Vieille died.

Paul Vieille (1854 - 1934)
Vieille was a French chemist who successfully created the first smokeless gunpowder. Nitrocellulose was found to be an effective alternative to gunpowder in the form of gun cotton. The problem was gun cotton was a highly unstable material and a danger to everyone involved in its manufacture and use. Vieille discovered a method to suspend nitrocellulose as a colloid into a variety of solvents that could be pressed into a useful and stable form.

1902 - Cato Maximilian Guldberg died.

Cato Maximilian Guldberg (1836 - 1902) and Peter Waage (1833 - 1900) 
Wikimedia Commons
Guldberg was a Norwegian chemist who, together with Peter Waage, discovered the Law of Mass Action. This law relates the rate of a chemical reaction is proportional to the amount of active mass, or concentration, of the reactants. This law became the basis for determining rate constants of chemical reactions. He also developed a general rule where the boiling point of a liquid is approximately 2/3 of the liquid's critical temperature. This rule is known today as "Guldburg's Rule".

1742 - Edmond Halley died.

Edmond Halley (1656 - 1742)
Halley was an English natural philosopher who was the second Astronomer Royal. He is best known for calculating the orbit of the comet that bears his name. He was also was the publisher and editor of Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis.

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