Theodore William Richards & Irving Langmuir’ birthday
Nobel Prize laureate
Originally shared by International Atomic Energy Agency
January 31 is the birthday of both Theodore William Richards and Irving Langmuir. These two American chemists and Nobel laureates are rarely remembered today, but in their time they made important contributions to science and society!
Born in 1868, Theodore Richards was the first American scientist to ever receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry and is famous for determining the atomic weights of elements. Today we use mass spectrometers to measure the mass and abundance of elements, but in the late 19th century Richards’s work was crucial to chemists, and his work helped support the concept of isotopes.
Irving Langmuir, born in 1881, helped define the modern concept of an atom’s valence shells — contributing to the development of the Gilbert N. Lewis’s valence bond theory. Langmuir earned his Nobel Prize for his work on surface chemistry, but most people can thank him for improving the incandescent light bulb. By filling the bulb’s space with argon and by coiling its filament, he increased the lifespan of light bulbs.
Who’s your favourite unsung scientist?