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Saturday, January 18, 2014

This Day in Science History - January 18 - Edward Frankland

January 18th is Edward Frankland's birthday. Frankland was an English chemist who pioneered the idea of valency. He theorized the an element could combine with a limited selection of other elements and established the field of structural chemistry.

Together with Joseph Lockyer, Frankland discovered the only element to be discovered outside of Earth before it was discovered terrestrially. Both men were investigating the spectrum given off by the sun when they found a series of lines that did not correspond to any known elements. They named their discovery "helium" after the Sun, or Helios. Their discovery coincided with French astronomer Pierre Janssen solar eclipse discovery of helium.

Helium was only found in the spectra of stars and nebulae but never on Earth. It would take another 30 years before helium was detected in an ore of uranium by Swedish chemists Per Teodor Cleve and Nils Langlet. Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.

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